Keswick Film Club - Reviews - Somers Town

Reviews - Somers Town

Somers Town

Reviewed By John Stakes

Somers Town
Somers Town
For his follow up to the outstanding success of “This is England” British director Shane Meadows was funded by Eurostar to make a 10minute short on the new St Pancras terminal link to Paris and beyond. This modest project then developed into something approaching a feature film when his childhood friend and scriptwriter Paul Fraser came up with a tack-on story linking the project to the Polish community living behind Euston St Pancras and Kings Cross stations in an area called Somers Town which became the film’s title.

Meadows had no difficulty in persuading his adolescent star of “This is England” Thomas (“ Tommo” ) Turgoose to play a truanting teenager from Nottingham who journeys to the metropolis and there meets ( after being beaten up by the local welcoming committee ) a Polish immigrant youth Marek (Piotr Jagiello ) who hides him in his father’s flat. Marek’s father is a construction worker and lone parent from Warsaw struggling to make ends meet.

The film centres on the growing relationship between the two boys, and, aided by some improvised scenes, the film’s running time was extended to around 70 minutes and the final version was released into cinemas nationwide on the 22nd August 2008.

Whether by virtue of a shoestring budget or reality, Somers Town was depicted as a drab soulless part of inner London with nothing to occupy the fertile minds of two adolescents. Tommo, with his cheeky chappie charm, proved to be quite inventive in a street-wise sense, and it was not long before the lads became involved in some mildly interesting escapades whilst pursuing the same puppy-love interest in the form of a pretty French waitress who unexpectedly disappeared back to Paris.

The film was effectively shot in grainy black and white to highlight the drabness of the lads’ surroundings until the final wordless scene which was shot in colour to emphasise their joy in boarding their first Eurostar to Paris to search for the girl. The whole mini-exercise was amiable, affectionate and completely undemanding. Its style seemed to be an uneasy blend of Ealing comedy and cinema vérité. In Turgoose however you felt here was a lad who was entirely at home with himself and his surroundings and without whom the film would never have got off the ground. Indeed he has since gone on to play a teenage thug who terrorises an older couple in the well received British horror flick “Eden Lake” currently on release.

Whatever the debate as to value for money with a film of this length the large audience clearly enjoyed its jokey feelgood approach (and it was a prize winner at the Edinburgh Film Festival earlier this year) but Meadows will have to step up his game if he is to maintain his following and early favourable comparisons with the veteran film director Ken Loach.

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