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'Somers Town'
Directed by Shane Meadows (2008)
Howard Schumann (howard16)     Print Article 
Published 2009-12-17 10:20 (KST)   
Howard Schumann rates "Somers Town" an A.  <Editor's Note>
Anais Nin said, "Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born."

A new world is indeed born for two lonely teenagers in Shane Meadows' Somers Town, a spirited 70-minute exploration of the bonds that can arise out of mutual need. Originally intended as a 20-minute promo by railway line Eurostar to publicize their high-speed London to Paris train, the film contains references to high-speed trains but is in no sense an advertisement for anything except good film making. Written by frequent Meadows collaborator Paul Fraser and shot in high contrast black and white, the film stars Thomas Turgoose, the twelve-year-old Skinhead in This is England as Tomo, a runaway orphan from Nottingham.

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Tomo comes to London to find something better in life but is beaten and robbed of his money and belongings on his first night away from home. He soon meets Marek (Piotr Jagiello), an introverted Polish teen who lives with his father in one of the flats in Somers Town, a working class area in Northern London. Somers Town is named after the Somers family who owned the land and can boast of such former residents as Charles Dickens, Arthur Rimbaud, and Paul Verlaine. Marek warily agrees to let Tomo stay with him but they are both fearful of being discovered by Marek's father (Ireneusz Czop), a Polish immigrant, who is often known to come home drunk. Shot in and around Phoenix Court, a low rise council property in Purchese Street, their friendship grows as they are put to work by a scheming neighbor Graham (Perry Benson) stacking and sanding lawn chairs.

Soon they are pulling off dicey capers, and competing for the affection of Maria (Elisa Lasowski), a lovely French waitress in a local cafe. One of the film's high points is when the two boys find an abandoned wheelchair and give Maria a ride home, a gesture that prompts her to plant a kiss on each boy's cheek, telling them that she loves them equally. Tomo likes to talk tough but his vulnerability shows through his poses and we can see that underneath there is a good person struggling to emerge. Marek is a photographer who has a gentleness about him, and the two personalities seem to complement each other. Supported by an outstanding acoustic soundtrack of songs by Gavin Clarke and Ted Barnes, Meadows captures the grittiness of blue-collar existence but balances it with a light touch that makes the film a thorough delight.

One of the funniest sequences is when the two steal a bag of clothes from the Laundromat that turn out to be mostly women's garments which Tomo is forced to wear simply because he doesn't have anything else. When Maria decides to return home to Paris without saying goodbye, the boys plan a train trip to find her and, in a color montage that may be real or imagined, the film explodes into unexpected lyricism.

Meadows latest film may not have the clout of "Dead Man's Shoes" (2004) or "This is England" (2006) but to call it insubstantial just because it is short is to do it a grave injustice. "Somers Town" is so natural and the character's growing pains so poignant that you will have a hard time ever getting it out of your head.
This article has not appeared in any other news medium.
©2009 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Howard Schumann

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