Somers Town (Film Movement, NR)

film_somers-town_sm.gifIt’s a sweet story, admirably compact at just 71 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In Somers Town, director Shane Meadows has created a deceptively simple tale of an unlikely friendship between two boys in the central London neighborhood from which the film gets its name. Somers Town is home to three major railway stations and includes the St. Pancras entrance to the Channel Tunnel (a.k.a. the Chunnel); the film was financed by Eurostar, which operates high-speed passenger trains through the Chunnel from London to Paris and Brussels. Don’t hold that against the film, however; the product placement is not oppressive as Meadows using the neighborhood and the rail line as backdrop to a story about contemporary life in London.

Tomo (Thomas Turgoose, also seen in Meadows’ This is England) is a teenage runaway from Nottingham who’s not nearly as tough as he thinks he is; his first night in London, he’s beaten and robbed by a gang of kids who leave him with only the clothes on his back. Marek (newcomer Piotr Jagiello) is a Polish immigrant who keeps house for his dad Mariusz (Ireneusz Czop). Since dad works on the Chunnel during the day and spends his evenings getting drunk with his pals, Marek is pretty much left to his own devices and spends a lot of time wandering around aimlessly and taking pictures.

Tomo and Marek meet by chance in a café and after several false starts become friends. Marek hides Tomo in his room and the two of them hang out together during the day, doing odd jobs for their somewhat shady neighbor Graham (played by character actor Perry Benson) and in their clumsy way trying romance the pretty waitress Maria (Elisa Lasowski). Kate Dickie provides excellent support in a small role as a woman who takes a kindly interest in Tomo.

Nothing earth shattering happens during the film. The boys’ friendship is tested and survives; Mariusz comes to understand that his son is growing up; and everything culminates in a trip to Paris on Eurostar. It’s a sweet story, admirably compact at just 71 minutes, and Meadows’ method of working with improvised scenes shot in long takes gives it a sense of emotional truth which is lacking in many more ambitious films. Cinematography by Natasha Braier establishes just the right tone for the story, and the folk-influenced soundtrack by Gavin Clark and Ted Barnes is a perfect fit, as well. | Sarah Boslaugh 

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