Made in Britain [1982]

Written by David Leland and directed by Alan Clarke, Made in Britain is a slice of horrible but not inaccurate life from 1982. It holds a terrific early performance from Tim Roth as a skinhead with a swastika caste-mark tattoo, who constantly bares shark-like teeth as he spits embittered, articulate defiance at caring social workers and truncheon-wielding policemen alike. Sixteen-year-old Trevor (Roth) is remanded to an assessment center before sentencing, but remains determined to disobey the rules imposed on him by any authority figures and spends the whole 73-minute play challenging the system to smack him back down, by vandalizing the Job Centre, using his case-file as a toilet, stealing cars, victimizing members of the "immigrant community" and shouting bile at people. The cycle that will lead him to an adult life in prison is explained to him with blackboard diagrams, but he believes he's better off keeping his hatred burning than toeing the line to end up as a no-hoper in a society that prizes obedience over conscience. It was originally televised as one of four Leland-filmed dramas about different aspects of the British education system, which made it seem less monomaniacal in its focus on an extreme case. There's no denying that it's an honest portrait of a monster calculated to terrify even the most concerned liberals which still manages to celebrate his self-destructive defiance. A film for television rather than a TV play, it has very strong language but the violence is all in Roth's face. --Kim Newman

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