By Eric Gasa
The dark, brilliant, and narcissistic story of Steven Morrissey is finally getting the silver screen treatment. The new biopic, titled England Is Mine, arrives in theaters August 4 and centers on the singer’s youth before forming his iconic band, The Smiths.
The Smiths are revered as the most important British band of the 1980’s, and paved the way for other rock groups like The Stone Roses and Oasis. Morrissey’s heartbroken falsetto, combined with Johnny Marr’s guitar riffs made the group into a rock & roll landmark. Though the band broke up in 1987 their music and story remains popular to this day hence this new release.
Directed by Mark Gill and starring Jack Lowden as Morrissey, England Is Mine’s early setting will give viewers a peek into Manchester’s vibrant punk scene and the singer’s personal life. The trailer, released June 30, is sleek, propulsive, and shows a bashful yet pretentious Morrissey trying to make his way into the spotlight.
“The local music scene is the sole preserve of troglodytes,” he sighs in the trailer, “…in case I haven’t made myself clear it wasn’t very good.”
Funnily enough, the film did not get authorization from the real-life Morrissey who is sure to have a long, wordy fit the day of its release. The former Smiths singer, also known for being an outspoken vegan and drama king, was criticized for walking off a Tucson, Arizona stage after only performing six songs in April. Last year he refused to play at Chicago’s Riot Fest when food vendors didn’t remove meat from their menus.
Regardless of diet, Smiths fans will flock to the heart on sleeve England Is Mine.
Lowden’s portrayal of the famed front-man is muted and fitting. His voice sounds tired and exasperated like a modern-day Shakespeare. The film’s producers, Baldwin Li and Orian Williams, also produced Control, the biopic about Joy Division singer, Ian Curtis.
On England Is Mine, they aim to craft the same level of emotion and drama as they did on Control. The life of Morrissey is reflected all throughout his music; like a tragic, brooding swansong. By the end of the trailer he looks like he is coming apart at the seams, caught between his artistic dreams and insecurities. Though we already know the ending of this story, England Is Mine makes it all the more compelling to watch.