Made in Britain – film review
Made in Britain is a 1983 British drama, directed by Alan Clarke (Scum) and starring a very young Tim Roth. Apparently he got the role purely by chance, walking into the audition looking for a bicycle pump. It was originally filmed as a ‘made for TV’ movie and has a fairly short duration of just 73 minutes. But they’re some pretty explosive minutes.
The story follows sixteen year old Trevor (Roth) – an angry, racist young thug who has just been charged with throwing a brick through a Pakistani man’s shop window. Still technically classed as a child, Trevor is given one last chance of salvation through an assessment centre for juveniles. But can Trevor’s social worker Harry (Eric Richard) save him from a life of crime, poverty and destruction – or will it be too late?
So what was right with it? Tim Roth’s acting is brilliant. He is so believable as Trevor who I found very unlikeable for most of the film. Maybe if I’d watched it as a teenager I might have empathised with him more, being ‘misunderstood’ and the ‘underdog’ – but watching it as a (very liberal minded) adult, I just found him annoying and arrogant. And I got to the point where I was shouting at the TV (that happens a lot) – fed up with Trevor’s ignorant attitude, even towards caring adults trying to help him.
And from the opening scene that plays loud, British punk there is never a dull moment. Some of the film can be uncomfortable to watch, Trevor is a racist, hates authority and is rude towards anyone he disagrees with – which as I can work out, is pretty much everyone. If he had a catchphrase it would definitely be ‘bollocks’. Trevor’s attitude does of course work in the film’s favour too – as most scenes are fairly exciting as we begin to learn that he won’t be silenced too easily. You never know what he’ll do next and that is obviously quite fun to watch.
It would be churlish not to point out too of course, Trevor’s good points. I suppose to some extent he is quite brave – he also proves himself to be extremely resourceful and his ‘high intelligence’ is spoken about continually by social worker Harry and other authority figures desperate to help him.
There is one scene in particular that is pretty powerful and Trevor is silenced for the first time. It is a pinnacle scene where Trevor’s past life and future prospects are outlined to him, no holds barred and for the first time, he stops sneering and listens. I imagine this scene could be likened to the one in Scum where Archer offers his philosophies on the borstal system.
Anything wrong with it? Well not really but it will depend on the viewer. Some people may find it a bit dated and grainy now, obviously the quality isn’t the best but that didn’t bother me. This is a film about the story, the acting and the way it makes you think. It is gritty real life and if anything the ‘cheap’ feel only adds to the realism of the story, which at times, does have a documentary feel.
I do think that age and background could make a difference when watching Made in Britain. For example if someone were a teenager in the early 80s then perhaps Trevor’s attitude might resonate more with that person, purely just from being a part of that era and remembering the way of life. The decade is well remembered for Thatcherism and a tough time to be working class. Undoubtedly Trevor’s background will have had something to do with his choices. He was still a prick though.
All in all this is a great, thought-provoking film and if you’re a fan of Alan Clarke, Tim Roth or British grit in general, this is a must watch. It’s pretty cheap to buy on Amazon as well, or free if you look it up on YouTube. I thought it had a great ending as well.