“This is England ‘90” is very much in the style of “This is England ‘88” and feels like a direct sequel to it in a way the earlier entries in the series didn’t to each other.
I objected to what I saw as something of a simplistic moral conclusion to parts of “This is England ‘88”, but “This is England ‘90” does what I hoped it would do, and complicates those resolutions. I still find some of the social development hard to take, but the cast all do a fantastic job of selling it.
The reactions of one’s friends and family to them “coming out” about being abused rang very true here, the reactions feeling very earnest in how bizarre some were. They didn’t feel like a writer guessing at how someone would react, they felt like real, complex, nuanced people reacting to real, complex, nuanced situations and revelations.
Director Shane Meadows really does excel at portraying complicated social issues and situations with great depth and realism. It’s just when he turns his eye to less interesting scenarios (like Shaun’s ongoing development), the series suffers for it. The limited runtime of the first film really did wonders, as giving so many characters expanded subplots does bring down the quality here. But when it’s focused, it works tremendously well. I give it three and a half cups of tea, and a used camera.