Somers Town (12A)

Directed by Shane Meadows, written by Paul Fraser
Screening at Fact from 22nd August 2008

Reviewed by Anthony Swords

After the success of This Is England, it is a pleasant surprise that Shane Meadows has returned so quickly to the screen with this small but thoroughly enjoyable film. It is testament to his character and passion for filmmaking that Meadows has not been so eager to capitalize on his previous film’s success and wait for a production with a bigger budget to come along, but has instead chosen to ride his wave of creativity with a modest and well crafted film.

The film is centered on the exploits of Tomo, a young Midland runaway, and Marek, the son of a Polish immigrant, who are both lost souls, displaced from their homes and just trying to get by on the tough streets of London’s Somers Town estate. Luckily they find each other and have the affections of a young French waitress to occupy them. Meadows establishes our two male leads as a sort of underclass odd couple with the stoical and naive Marek a perfect foil to the exuberant Tomo. Despite moving far from his comfort zone of the Midlands, Meadows is familiar with these characters and their social milieu, which means that the film’s subject matter remains assuredly touching and funny without ever straying into sentimentality.

Rather than being a step backwards or a caveat to prove his abilities - as Dead Man’s Shoes was seen - Somers Town will create much intrigue and excitement about the possibilities of Meadows’ and his collaborators’ next project. Now sixteen, Thomas Turgoose puts in an excellent performance as Tomo, if in an undemanding role, so it will be interesting to see what he can achieve in a more mature character. As for Meadows, he has shown he still has the ability to create films that explore his preoccupations with male relationships in contemporary Britain within a lighthearted manner, much like his short films.

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