Somers Town

Somers Town

****1/2

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

If Shane Meadows' last feature, This Is England, showed a community fearful of immigrants, Somers Town celebrates the joyful flipside - embracing the contribution many newcomers to Britain make as a subsidiary note in this tale of youthful exhuberance and friendship.

Thomas Turgoose - growing up fast since This Is England - plays 16-year-old Tomo, a kid who's left his 'no-hope' notions of Nottingham behind for the bright lights of London. Fetching up in Somers Town - an area between Euston Station and St Pancras - he has no particular plans but a whole lot of chutzpah. However, when his first night in the new town leaves him battered, bruised and bereft of his bag, he strikes up an unlikely friendship after a chance encounter with 15-year-old Polish teenager Marek (Piotr Jagiello). He lives in London with his dad, a hard-working and fairly hard-drinking tough guy, in contrast to Marek's much gentler nature.

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Marek takes photos of everything - but especially the sexy French girl who works at the local cafe. He is the yin to Tomo's yang, being shy, retiring and comparatively inexperienced when it comes to women, nicking stuff and blagging his way through life.

Shot for the most part in black and white, Meadows' film oozes quality. The scripting feels natural and, thanks to long takes, Meadows is able to get the best performances from his young leads. The tone is one of optimistic whimsy and the attention to detail - from Marek's football shirt which reads Terry Henry, to cockney geezer Graham (Perry Benson) who keeps his cash in his kecks - is spot on. The supporting cast, including Kate Dickie as a woman on a train, Elisa Lasowski (as the boy's would-be French squeeze Maria) and Ireneusz Czop as Marek's dad, are also uniformly good and bring a relaxed air to their roles. The comedy, also is borne out of the situation - such as Tomo ending up in a dress through a strange twist of laundry fate - rather than through contrived scripting, giving the film an almost documentary air in places.

Although running at a trim 75 minutes, this is never a negative thing. The pacing is spot on and the journey the boys go on, fully realised in all its coming of age joy. Don't miss it.

Screening with Dog Altogether at selected venues.

Reviewed on: 30 Apr 2008
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A boy heads to London to seek his fortune and finds friendship.
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Director: Shane Meadows

Writer: Paul Fraser

Starring: Thomas Turgoose, Piotr Jagiello, Ireneusz Czop, Elisa Lasowski, Perry Benson, Kate Dickie

Year: 2008

Runtime: 75 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: UK

Festivals:

Tribeca 2008
EIFF 2008

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If you like this, try:

This Is England