England Is Mine: On Becoming Morrissey

94+ min. Mark Gill, dist. by Cleopatra Entertainment c/o MVDvisual, www.mvdb2b.com. 2017. Blu-ray UPC 760137059288. $29.95. MUSIC/BIOPIC
In director/writer Gill's debut feature film, Steven Morrissey (b. 1959), a quick-witted but directionless and socially awkward teen, blossoms into Morrissey, the beloved rock star known for his fanatical fan base, sex appeal, and acerbically clever lyrics as both a solo artist and front man for 1980s icons The Smiths. Set in Manchester, England, the film follows Steven (convincingly portrayed by rising star Jack Lowden) through several years in the late 1970s and early 1980s as he struggles to emerge from his emotional shell and get his musical career off the ground. Along the way he botches a few day jobs, hones his songwriting skills, finds and loses friends, and spends a lot of time pouting and staring at posters of James Dean and Oscar Wilde. The sets, costumes, and music are impressively authentic, salvaging a predictable plot that piles on the pathos and strains to make Morrissey a tragic figure. The disc includes two worthwhile behind-the-scenes featurettes and audio commentary by Gill and Lowden.
VERDICT The movie succeeds as a realistic and ultimately uplifting coming-of-age story that will appeal to a wider audience than just Morrissey fanatics and music buffs.
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