Somers Town (2008)

Directed by: Shane Meadows (Dead Man’s Shoes)

Starring: Thomas Turgoose, Piotr Jagiello, Ireneusz Czop

Rating: B

Recommended?: Yes

Genre: Drama

Watched On: DVD

Shane Meadows is one of my favorite filmmakers of all time. Okay, to be perfectly honest, he might actually be my favorite filmmaker of all time, he never fails to impress me with his violent, character-driven, and sometimes humorous films, I think he’s a genius. Somers Town is lower-tier Meadows, but as it turns out, lower-tier Meadows is still pretty damn good. For this film Shane Meadows turns down the violence and more sordid elements apparent in many of his other films and goes for a sweetly eccentric kitchen-sink realism feel with traces of darker themes.

Marek (Piotr Jagiello) is a teenage aspiring photographer who immigrated with his well-meaning alcoholic father Mariusz (Ireneusz Czop) from Poland. Marek’s dad works long hours with a construction crew, drinks hard, and has little time for him. When Marek meets Tomo (Thomas Turgoose), a rough-and-tumble homeless kid, they don’t exactly hit it off at first, but they eventually bond over a mutual crush on a pretty French waitress (Elisa Lasowski) and come to a crossroads in their lives between boyhood and manhood. The belligerent, lazy Tomo starts working for an eccentric older man named Graham (Perry Benson) and Marek hides Tomo in his father’s apartment.

Shane Meadows has a keen sense of character detail and Somers Town is no exception. This film is all about the characters; there’s very little plot, almost no action, no special effects. The performances are very good, especially from Ireneusz Czop as Marek’s boozy, amiable father, and the movie has a strong sense of place. I think the story could have used more development of the friendship between Marek and Tomo. Tomo mostly came off as being an asshole to Marek, I wasn’t sure why Marek liked him, let alone why he would want to go to Paris with him at the end. I also think the film could have done without the cheesy ending montage, it probably should have ended ambiguously and with less schmaltz.

Nevertheless I enjoyed this movie, especially the interactions between the father and the son, they felt incredibly real. I would recommend Somers Town but I suggest that moviegoers interested in Shane Meadows watch some of his other films, like Dead Man’s Shoes, A Room For Romeo Brass, and This Is England first to see him at the height of his directorial powers. Somers Town is also in black and white, which might be off-putting for some viewers, but I thought it suited the style of the movie well. Somers Town is a tender, observant look at boys coming of age, and another memorable film from Shane Meadows.

 

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