***We're looking for contributors***

         

'Somers Town' Movie: 'Minor' But Worthwhile Effort Stars Tribeca & London Film Critics Winner

Somers Town with Thomas Turgoose Piotr Jagiello. Unlikely friendship in London suburbSomers Town with Thomas Turgoose and Piotr Jagiello. Directed by Shane Meadows, the black-and-white drama Somers Town is set in the titular London suburb, where homeless Midlands runaway Thomas Turgoose – previously seen in Meadows' This Is England – and Polish immigrant Piotr Jagiello develop an unlikely friendship. Somers Town was nominated for four British Independent Film Awards: Best British Independent Film, Best Director, Best Actor (Thomas Turgoose), and Best Screenplay (David Fraser). Besides, Turgoose and Piotr Jagiello shared the Best Actor award at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival, while Turgoose was the London Film Critics' Circle's Young British Performer of the Year for both Somers Town and James Watkins' Eden Lake.

'Somers Town' movie: Unlikely friendship in London suburb in transition

The happenstance friendship central to Shane Meadows' Somers Town buds within a small black-and-white world, an environment populated with aesthetic lines, distinct or unseen, that stretch retrograde towards an urban horizon. Convergence is not merely suggested through contrast and forms, but is realized as ubiquitous in the neighborhood around the film's young men.

A district of London in the shadows of St. Pancras railway station, Somers Town is at a point of transition. New construction and redevelopment abut decades-old council flats and working-class cafes. Rather than lament gentrified encroachment and its broad social meanings, Meadows (with screenwriter Paul Fraser) instead finds the modest possibilities of unlikely friendship.

Returning from Meadows' last feature, This Is England, Thomas Turgoose is rascally charming as the homeless Tomo, a runaway from the Midlands. (Perhaps not coincidentally, Turgoose's real-life nickname is Tommo.) A genial ruffian of easy wit and misplaced confidence, he befriends introspective and shy Marek, a Polish immigrant portrayed thoughtfully by Piotr Jagiello.

The two do very little but interact with good-natured humor, often in regard to a local French waitress. Plot is mostly absent, but opportunity and limitlessness are conspicuous.

'Minor' but worthwhile

Even at only 71 minutes, Somers Town, which was nominated for four British Independent Film Awards in 2008, is stretched and minor – but always worthwhile. (Film Movement is releasing it on DVD in the U.S. today.)

Shane Meadows never resorts to a gimmick or flash to suggest the youthful currency of now. The director does, however, thoughtfully employ commercial sensibilities to relate the commonality of experience. Despite the casual wandering central to Somers Town, these youths and the world that surrounds them are on a journey that may extend beyond preconceived limits.

Eurostar funding & plot-friendly marketing placement

Somers Town was funded by Eurostar, the high-speed rail passenger service between London and Paris (and Brussels) via the Chunnel. Its trains disembark from St. Pancras station, so it is reasonable to scrutinize the film as clever marketing propaganda. Certainly the black-and-white cinematography and jangle-rock soundtrack recalls an advertisement.

And yet, the railway remains largely peripheral to a sweet, though superficial, coming-of-age story until its closing moments: a color coda that reads strongly as a commercial spot for a rail cruise to Paris.

But on the other hand, two adolescent men like Tomo and Marek would likely imagine an excursion to Paris as just the sort of saturated, romantic ad that Meadows and cinematographer Natasha Braier deliver. There are few conflicts between artist and patron here.

Film Movement's Somers Town DVD also includes Paul Cotter's short film Odd Shoe, about a boy whose life is changed after he finds himself a new pair of shoes.

© Doug Johnson.

Somers Town (2008)

Dir.: Shane Meadows.

Scr.: Paul Fraser.

Cast: Thomas Turgoose. Piotr Jagiello. Elisa Lasowski. Kate Dickie. Ireneusz Czop. Perry Benson.

 

Somers Town cast info via the IMDb.

Piotr Jagiello and Thomas Turgoose Somers Town image: Film Movement.


         
If you liked the article 'Somers Town' Movie: 'Minor' But Worthwhile Effort Stars Tribeca & London Film Critics Winner, please recommend it to your friends and/or follow Alt Film Guide on social media. See share/follow buttons above.
'Somers Town' Movie: 'Minor' But Worthwhile Effort Stars Tribeca & London Film Critics Winner © 2004–2017 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s).
Text NOT to be reproduced without prior written consent.

Leave a comment about ''Somers Town' Movie: 'Minor' But Worthwhile Effort Stars Tribeca & London Film Critics Winner'

UPDATED COMMENTING RULES: Our articles and/or other people's comments infuriate you?

Well, here's the good news: It's perfectly okay to disagree with our own and/or other commenters' views and opinions.

But ... *thoughtfulness* and *at least a modicum of sanity* are imperative.

In other words: Add something reasonable & coherent to the discussion.

Spammy, abusive, bigoted, baseless (spreading misinformation), trollish/inflammatory, and/or just plain demented comments will be zapped and offenders may be banned.

Also, bear in mind that links found in comments will generally be deleted.

Most recent comments listed on top.