20 December 2011 | davideo-2
In the middle part of the saga that works on it's own merits
STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning
Picking up two years where the last instalment left off, TIE '88 catches up with the characters that were left behind from last time, with Woody (Joseph Gilgun) trying to settle down with a new girlfriend and angling for a promotion at work, whilst still trying to come to terms with the fact that his former love Lol (Vicky McClure) has given birth to a child by his best mate Milky (Andrew Shim), whose return will mark an explosive reunion between the pair. Meanwhile, Sean (Thomas Turgoose) finds himself in a personal crisis after enrolling in a drama class, while Lol herself is locked in her own personal hell, struggling to come to terms with what she was forced to do to her father and the fact Combo (Stephen Graham) is currently serving time for her crime.
This entirely unexpected latest instalment in the This is England saga came pretty much out of nowhere for me, and would, in all fairness, have been wrapped up perfectly with the last part. There didn't even appear to be any sort of publicity or build up to it, like there was with the last part. Still, with this all in mind, writer/director Shane Meadows proves there's still a lot of inspiration to be drawn from the source material, even if this feels, and was even sort of billed as, a stop off point between the last one and the allegedly explosive final part in the shape of This is England '90.
The dramatic dynamic is maintained in the driving force of the different plot lines involving the different characters, which consistently delivers as it always has. Meadows has, as ever, put a lot of effort in to recreating the bleak, desolate landscape of the Midlands back drop he grew up in, and the rough, hard bitten characters it bred. While there's plenty of flashes of light interspersed into the story, it's main focus is getting down to the tough, nitty gritty hard hitting drama, and this, at times, is pretty tough to watch. There's even an element of horror present, all of it psychological and more towards the end than the beginning, but just adding to the stomach churniness of it all that bit more.
While it's good that all of this is present, there just doesn't appear to be quite the tough, meaty chewiness to the material than there was to the last part and the film, merely feeling like an extension of the last part and the characters in that, like an update and a prelude to the next part. The narrative also loses it's flow a little, with certain dramatic plot developments suddenly abandoned here and there and never explored further, meaning the story loses it's substance a bit. Still, even if this is just a preview of what's to come, it's still an effective and powerful one. ***