Alan Clarke was a rare creature; a TV director who made programs that had more impact and quality than most theatrical films. Working for the BBC, Clarke created a trio of extraordinary made-for-TV films that examined violence in British society: Scum, Made in Britain, and The Firm. One of the most powerful of these films was the middle offering, Made in Britain, which has been released by Blue Underground both as a single DVD and as part of the Alan Clarke Collection boxed set.
Trevor (Tim Roth in his acting debut) is a 16-year old skin-head who hates society. He's been given every opportunity to straighten up and make something out of is life, but he just doesn't want to. All of the well meaning social workers in the world can't convince him to go to school or get a job, even when prison is the alternative.
Intelligent, inventive, and creative, Trevor is also racist, hateful, violent, and self destructive. The film follows him from a courtroom where he's on trial for smashing the window of a Pakistani's home, to the ordered evaluation at a residential center. Ordered to get a job, Trevor steals a car and goes to the job center, only to throw a concrete block through the office's plate glass window. Trevor not only has no respect for authority, he goes out of his way to offend the people who are trying to help him. This isn't out of some naive notion that he'll get away with everything. On the contrary, Trevor knows that he'll end up in jail and relishes the thought.
This is a fascinating movie and Tim Roth's outstanding performance in one of the reasons. Trevor has absolutely no redeeming qualities, yet Roth manages to make the violent hooligan charismatic and engrossing. Roth stomps through the city, like a wild animal. His anger and violence is apparent from the way he moves. You want Trevor to see the error of his ways, though deep down you know he never will, and that there are thousands like him. One of Roth's best performances, and that's saying something.
The way that Clarke films the movie helps broadcast Trevor's emotions. This was the first film that Clarke used a steady cam, and he puts the device to good use. The long, jerky takes give the film the feeling of a documentary and also serves to express Trevor's anger and not-so pent up rage.
This is a powerful film that asks a lot of questions, but has no answers. It doesn't try to come up with a solution to youth violence and dissatisfaction, it just shines a light on it.
The mono soundtrack is fine and fits the film well. The dialog is easy to discern, though some viewers may have a problem understanding some of the British accents, especially Tim Roth's when he's talking fast. Happily there are English subtitles to help with these moments. Aside from that the disc sound fine, with not major audio defects.
This movie was filmed on 16mm high speed film, mostly with natural lighting. Because of this the full frame image is fairly grainy and a bit soft, but still looks a lot better than I thought it would. The image is clear and there is a good amount of detail. Digital defects aren't present and print defects are likewise not to be found. The color, though a little muted, is fine. Given the limitations of the filming method, this DVD looks very good.
This movie boasts two commentary tracks, one by star Tim Roth, and the other my Made in Britian writer David Leland and producer Margaret Matheson. While both commentaries had their moments, Roth's was the better of the two. He talks about the way the movie was filmed as well as the endless rehearsal that the cast was put through and Clarke's method of directing. On the other track David Leland has some interesting things to say about the film including the history of this TV movie and what he was trying to accomplish with writing it.
There is also a 5 minute interview with Tim Roth where he talks about the film and a gallery of stills and posters.
Tim Roth's powerful performance and Alan Clarke's creative directing come together to make this an unforgettable film. This story of a very angry young man who has future and doesn't want one is much more engrossing than one would expect. It's odd to find yourself pulling for Trevor, a man who has no redeeming qualities and is throughly unlikeable, even when you know how his story will turn out. A great film that is much better than it's made-for-TV origins would indicate. Highly Recommended.