Friday, March 26, 2010

MADE IN BRITAIN (1982) - Alan Clarke

Of the nine or ten angry young blokes I've had the displeasure of spending time with, skinhead Trevor (Tim Roth) in Made in Britain is the youngest and most reprehensible. He's an equal-opportunity racist who loves to break Pakistani store windows but who is not above befriending a black detainee in the detention center when it suits him to have a partner in crime. Like most Thatcher-era punks, he's all about giving the middle finger to authority, but Trevor goes above and beyond. Even when the system bends a little for him in the way of mellow parole officer or assessment counselor who lets him out for the night to go to a demolition derby, he pisses all over it -- literally breaking into the counselor's filing cabinet, pissing and shitting on his and other detainees' files.

Trevor is in permanent fuck-you mode, regardless of the situation. Even the harmless local job office becomes the object of his wrath. He pulls all the job cards from the board, dumping them on a counselor's desk, then proceeds to smash the front window with a cinder block. When another counselor tries to explain to him, in a very sad-funny scene in front of a blackboard, the vicious flow chart of detention center-courts-prison-courts-prison his actions will trap him in, Trevor just grins and spits back: "Sounds grand." Like Bronson, Trevor is hard-wired for self-destruction. But Trevor's age and the fact that he doesn't even seem to be enjoying his acting-out all that much makes it all the more of a tragic gut-punch.

Director Clarke only toys with a possibly redemptive moment when Trevor stops on one of his rampages before a storefront window featuring a family of mannequins (Mom, Pop, Son and Daughter all with price tags). If there's a glimmer of hope for the future in Trevor's eyes, he doesn't really let us see it. Trevor just moves on. At least he doesn't break that window.

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