Director: Shane Meadows
Screenwriters: Paul Fraser
Starring: Thomas Turgoose, Piotr Jagiello, Perry Benson
Running Time: 75 mins
Somers Town is a powerful, brutal but ultimately uplifting adventure between two unlikely friends that explores a number of poignant themes. Given the effortless acting and clever direction, the film bears such emotional authenticity that it could easily be mistaken for a documentary.
Reuniting This Is England's director Shane Meadows and the film's naturalistic young star Thomas Turgoose, Somers Town paints a fairly grim black and white picture of contemporary inner-city London, with its imposing concrete structures almost stifling those who remain within. However, two disparate young spirits are thrown together in the shape of loudmouth teen tearaway Tomo and quiet, unhappy Polish youngster Marek.
Their characters differ wildly, yet they are both running away from their pasts and suffer from a distinct lack of parental guidance. As they roam the streets in search of adventure, love and a quick buck, it's heartbreaking to discover that they don't know where they're running to in more ways than one. Soon though, in pleasingly heartwarming fashion, a young waitress enters the fray and paints colour into their world.
Showcasing the triumph of human spirit, Somers Town contains a surprising amount of everyday humour. Tomo's attempts to impress a girl by claiming to be a cultured artist are sublime, as are some of his fashion mistakes, while wideboy wheeler-dealer Graham (Perry Benson) provides regular laughs without ever becoming a simple stock character. Just wait until you see where he stashes his cash.
There's also an ongoing sweetness and comedy in the interaction between Marek and Tomo, which serves to heighten the impact of the more tragic elements of the story. Turgoose is brilliant as Tomo, showcasing his rare naturalistic talent and a great sense of timing. As Marek, Piotr Jagiello is perfect as the reserved foil to Tomo's bizarre behaviour.
Shane Meadows deserves massive acclaim for his direction, conveying so much through simple, stark imagery and framing the characters to intensify the effect of the stifling environment on them. Such camerawork perfectly brings out the uneasy juxtaposition of the natural and the industrial throughout the film. Alongside this, he allows the performances of the young leads to shine through and uses the camera to intricately observe their emotions as they veer from desperation to elation.
Somers Town is a modern, understated classic that works as a fine companion piece to This Is England and is a rare example of stylistic form and narrative content merging together flawlessly.
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