England Is Mine, the newly retitled biopic about musician Morrissey from writer-director Mark Gill is getting a theatrical release through Cleopatra Entertainment. The film previously was titled Steven. England Is Mine will bow August 25 at the IFC Center in New York, then expand nationwide throughout the fall. The film will open first in the U.K. via eOne on August 4.
The drama, which recently closed the Edinburgh Film Festival, is about the early days of Morrissey, the iconic pop star and original frontman for seminal band the Smiths. It stars Jack Lowden (Dunkirk) as the artist born Steven Patrick Morrissey and Jessica Brown Findlay (Downton Abbey) as Linder Sterling, his soulmate and muse.
Set in Margaret Thatcher’s Britain of the 1970s and ’80s, a time when working-class Manchester was beset by unemployment and riots, the film tells the story of 17-year-old Steven (Lowden), a painfully shy, intellectually precocious loner who lives for, and writes about, the burgeoning local music scene — a surprisingly vibrant subculture in an otherwise drab industrial city. Too intimidated to join that scene, he writes reviews from the sidelines, imagining what he would do if he were onstage. When one of his write-ups is noticed by kindred spirit Sterling, an aspiring painter, the two become fast friends, and she pushes him to form a band and take to the stage. Steven finally works up the courage to book a club date and performs a dazzling cover of an old girl-group standard. This is the first time the world gets to hear the distinctive, emotion-filled voice that eventually would propel him to stardom.
That very night, a manager reaches out with an offer. Unfortunately, it’s only for the musicians, not the lead singer, meaning Steven will be left behind. His dreams of a musical career vanishes, and he’s left with nothing but wasted days at a soul-crushing civil servant job and lonely nights holed up in the same bedroom he’s slept in his whole life. Only his mother’s unwavering belief in his talent, and Linder’s constant reminder — “Be yourself, everyone else is taken” — give him the strength to keep trying to become the artist he was always meant to be.
“Our company has deep roots in music, so we couldn’t more excited to bring this film over here to U.S. audiences and to Morrissey’s enormous fan base,” said Brian Perera, founder of Cleopatra Entertainment and president of Cleopatra Records.
Recent films in release from the company include A Street Cat Named Bob, based on the international bestseller by James Bowen and Garry Jenkins and directed by Roger Spottiswoode, which premiered last fall in the U.K. and North America last year.
Gill garnered an Oscar nom for his short film The Voorman Problem, which also received a BAFTA nomination. Lowden, whose stage work has already earned him the UK’s highest honor, the Olivier Award, soon will be seen in Christopher Nolan’s eagerly anticipated Dunkirk and also numbers among his credits such films as A United Kingdom.
Brown Findlay also has been seen in Winter’s Tale, The Riot Club and Victor Frankenstein.
Baldwin Li, Gill’s producer and fellow Voorman Oscar nominee, produced the film along with Orian Williams, producer of Anton Corbijn’s Control, the multiple-award-winning biopic of Ian Curtis and the band Joy Division.
The domestic rights were initially brokered UTA Independent Film Group along with HanWay last year.