Tuesday, November 5, 2013

#1,177. Made in Britain (1982)

Directed By: Alan Clarke

Starring: Tim Roth, Terry Richards, Bill Stewart

Tag line: "Trevor is an angry young man"

Trivia: Tim Roth got the lead role by accident. He stumbled into the theater where auditions were being held as he was looking to borrow a bicycle pump

Working primarily in television, director Alan Clarke turned out a number of socially relevant movies in the ‘70s and ‘80s, films that addressed issues ranging from sectarian violence in Northern Ireland (Elephant) to football hooliganism (The Firm). His 1982 picture, Made in Britain, concerns the exploits of a neo-Nazi skinhead named Trevor (Tim Roth), an angry young man who, following his most recent arrest (for vandalism), is sentenced to spend several weeks at a youth rehabilitation center, where a professional will evaluate his behavior. His social worker, Harry (Eric Richard), tells Trevor that the youth center is his last chance (meaning his next stop is prison). Yet Trevor continues to thumb his nose at authority, and even drags his new roommate, Errol (Terry Richards), along as he raises a little hell.

A particularly loathsome character, Trevor is determined to stir up trouble everywhere he goes, never once considering the consequences of his actions. Shortly after arriving at the youth center, he’s ordered to visit an employment agency to look for a job. Taking the money the center gave him for bus fare, Trevor instead buys a pack of cigarettes, and, with Errol in tow, steals a car and heads to a hardware store to pick up some glue. After huffing the glue, Trevor barges into the employment agency, grabs a bunch of cards off the wall, and, jumping to the front of the line, orders the woman working there (Jean Marlow) to find him a job. When she tells him he’ll have to wait his turn, an angry Trevor storms out of the office, picks up a brick, and smashes it through the front window.

Tim Roth is absolutely brilliant as Trevor, playing the character as if he were a rabid dog with no regard for authority or the law. In the movie’s best scene, Trevor, who’s been put in solitary confinement for breaking down a door and assaulting a cafeteria worker, has it out with Peter (Bill Stewart) and Barry (Sean Chapman), two of the youth center’s administrators. Spewing hatred towards minorities, Trevor cuts loose with a barrage of expletives, saying, in no uncertain terms, that he will never play by the rules. It’s a powerful sequence, and Roth, who made his screen debut in this film, handles it like a seasoned pro.

Made in Britain is not an easy film to watch, and, much like Clarke’s 1979 movie Scum (which starred yet another young up-and-comer, Ray Winstone), offers a glimpse into a section of UK society that most would rather forget exists. Hard-hitting and brutal, Made in Britain is a disturbing motion picture.

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