England Is Mine, Morrissey biopic review...
Let’s be honest, Morrisey is a somewhat divisive figure when it comes to music, especially for many in the rock fraternity who simply love to hate both The Smiths and the man himself. A man whose protestations appear bigger than his solo career these days, some of which are highly controversial. And when the subject of a teenage Morrisey as a biopic was announced I certainly raised an eyebrow, Spock style. But he is still Manchester through and through.
Essentially the “story” is about the formative years of the man known as Steven Patrick Morrisey, his writing of poems both at gigs and at work, jobs he is unable to hold down, his awkwardness with women and the film ending with Johnny Marr knocking on his door and the pair in a first writing session.
Details of how things were in the later part of 70’s Manchester are well curated and presented; even the wood pattern on the side of the bar at Rafters is perfectly recreated albeit only shown for a matter of seconds. However, venues were shown as dull, drab, boring places, certainly not how I remember them.
His anxiety and psychosis was covered well but his bout of major depression following the breakup of The Nosebleeds, the band he briefly fronted, resulting in a six-week bed fest, was skirted over. More is made of the pills he was taking to counter this.
Missing from this biopic is his acerbic writing for the likes of the Record Mirror and his obsession with The Cramps, which went as far as running their fan club; by embodying these it could have made the story much more rounded. And considering music was such a huge part of his life the film features very little.
The film has been slammed by one of Morrisey's childhood friends, James Maker, as historical fiction which may seem strange as those early years are very well-documented, he states in a lengthy Facebook post "the fact is, this is not Morrissey."
Having said all that the film seemed to fly by, which, for such a dull story, came as a surprise. Enjoyable, but not essential even for Smiths/Morrissey completists.
Words: Anthony Firmin