Made in Britain (1982)

 “You will respect authority, and you will obey the rules.”

Made in Britain–the story of a young, violent British skinhead, is a showcase for the phenomenal acting talents of the mercurial Tim Roth. He was an unknown when given the role of 16-year-old Trevor–an incorrigible repeat offender who lands in court yet again for throwing rocks through the windows of a Pakistani immigrant. Harry Parker (Eric Richard), Trevor’s long-suffering social worker is the only person in the ‘system’ who thinks Trevor is redeemable in any way, shape or form. When the film begins, Trevor is sent to an assessment centre for evaluation. Depending on his behaviour, he will remain at the centre for at least 6 weeks until all the evaluation reports are in, and until he’s agreed to sign a contract outlining minimal standards of behaviour.

The assessment centre is seen as a ‘good thing’ when compared to the alternative–a ‘Borstal’ type detention centre. Trevor, however, doesn’t see the assessment centre as a pleasant alternative–to him it means one thing–being locked up.

Trevor isn’t a likeable character–at one point the judge notes: “You do not invite leniency, do you?” And the judge is correct–Trevor sports a swastika on his forehead, and he’s a blatant racist. Roth plays this role with incredible energy and rage, and he’s simply phenomenal. Once he’s stuck in the assessment centre, he’s an explosive force of nature–pacing back and forth waiting for his opportunity to break free. The counselors, for the most part, severely underestimate Trevor’s sheer, single-minded hatred and refusal to be rehabilitated. On the other hand, Trevor craftily evaluates the weaknesses of his counselors and exploits them accordingly. To Trevor, the propaganda and social training starts in school with the party line: ‘be a good boy, listen to your teachers, and you’ll go far in life.’ He rejects these platitudes and with a self-destructive urge, launches himself at society. Trevor often seems strangely detached from his own inevitable fate–this is first apparent in the courtroom when he answers the judge, and his attitude is consistently present in all of his other relationships.

What makes director Alan Clarke’s character so terrifying and so watchable, however, is exactly what Trevor does once he is unleashed. The decisions Trevor makes when free create an argument that he’s on an unbreakable cycle of hatred, criminality, and incarceration. Made in Britain is part of a trilogy of British made-for-television films from Clarke. Scum is the tale of life inside a Borstal type juvenile facility, and The Firm is the story of a violent soccer fan. DVD extras include audio commentary from Tim Roth, audio commentary from writer David Leland and producer Margaret Matheson, and a 5-minute interview with Tim Roth.

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