An unauthorised yet very affectionate biopic, England is Mine offers a glimpse into Morrissey’s pre-Smiths years in 1970s Manchester. Surrounded by arguing parents, uninteresting people and dead-end jobs, this is a look into the breeding ground for the singer and writer’s eventual creative output. A shy and sensitive person, Morrissey’s wit and dry sense of humour is also in full force here, creating some brilliantly funny one-liners.
While Morrissey is an undeniably complex person to explore the formative years of, this film unfortunately seems to very much just skim the surface. At 94 minutes long, England is Mine doesn’t dig very deep at all into the singer’s life, instead offering glimpses at the many facets that make up the man.
What the film does, however, focus on is Morrissey’s struggle with mental health issues. This is the story of a man who simply does not fit into ordinary everyday life easily, and struggles through jobs at the Inland Revenue and as a hospital porter. He believes himself to be an undiscovered genius and has genuine disdain for the vast majority of people he comes into contact with.
The actor at the centre of it all, Jack Lowden, gives a delicate performance of a man that is surprisingly tricky to imitate. His subtle mannerisms and way with words perfectly encapsulate the idiosyncrasies of this complicated singer, without ever lapsing into caricature. Straight off the back of his performance in Dunkirk, Lowden is having one hell of a year so far.
Perhaps not one for the most diehard Morrissey fans, England is Mine is an enjoyable yet fairly narrow look into the singer’s formative years. Far from being a groundbreaking biopic, this is worth watching for Lowden’s pitch-perfect performance alone.
CAST: Jack Lowden, Jessica Brown Findlay, Jodie Comer
DIRECTOR: Mark Gill
WRITERS: Mark Gill, William Thacker
SYNOPSIS: A portrait of Steven Patrick Morrissey and his early life in 1970s Manchester before he went on to become lead singer of seminal ’80s band The Smiths.