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Somers Town review

August 11, 2008

From the Film and Festivals print mag:

NB: I foolishly didn’t realise this at the time of writing, but the whole thing was funded by Eurostar money. Explains a lot!

Director Shane Meadows leaves behind the harsh lessons and 80’s Nottingham setting of This Is England in his new effort, Somers Town. It is a much gentler tale of growing up, set in modern-day London.

Tommo (Thomas Turgoose), who had just turned 16 and left a care home in Nottingham, arrives in London. He meets Marek (Piotr Jagiello), son of Polish builder Mariusz (Ireneusz Czop), who lives on a large housing estate in Somers Town, between King’s Cross and Euston stations. His hard-drinking dad is working on the new rail link. Tommo moves into Marek’s, and they spend the days killing time until they can go and see their favourite waitress, Maria (Elisa Lasowski), at the local caff.

The film is shot beautifully, with this grimy, almost-forgotten piece of London given a sense of grandeur by the black and white film. Somers Town bursts into Technicolor when the boys finally make a longed-for trip to Paris, reminding this viewer of Dorothy’s arrival in Oz.

However, the thin plot is what lets the film down. Rather than delve into the mysteries of Tommo’s background, the film’s focus on the boys’ crush on Maria is disappointing. Nevertheless, this portrait of friendship is affecting and well acted.

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