Friday, 30 January 2009
An area of London, south of Camden Town, Somers Town is surrounded by Euston Road, Eversholt Street and Pancras Road. Today, it plays host to a street market and inspired Shane Meadow's latest film.
When Tomo (Thomas Turgoose) arrives in London after leaving his Nottingham home, the harsh realities of life in our capital city come crshing down during his first night out. After procuring a pack of beer from an off licence, Tomo encounters a trio of streetwise chancers who subject him to a good kicking and make off with his bag of wordly possessions. So far, so bad, until Tomo meets Polish teenager Marek (Piotr Jagiello) in a cafe, striking up a friendship that will launch them on an exciting trip. During the course of its 65 minute running time, SOMERS TOWN is smart, extremely funny and maintains its director's reputation for delivering small, beautifully formed (e)motion pictures. Here, the relationship between Tomo and Marek elevates proceedings into a completely uplifting 'buddy' movie, while managing to cram in several other gorgeously 'real' performances from amongst the cast of unknowns. Marek's father Mariusz (Ireneusz Czop), a Channel Tunnel labourer who spends his days working and his nights out on the piss; beautiful French waitress Maria (Elisa Lasowski) and a wonderful cockney spiv who flogs such rarities as Terry (sic) Henry t- shirts and enlists two pairs of idle hands to assist him.
As Marek proceeds to help his friend, while attempting to conceal the truth from his father, Maria stays just out of reach from boyfriend Marek and her new admirer. The end result is an intoxicating mix of life, love and family bonds, installing magic into an area that has little of its own. While the subject matter is often grim and compelling, Meadow's laces his film with several dollops of totally addictive humour: check out the scene where Tomo and Marek empty the contents of a stolen laundry bag, and prepare yourself for a priceless moment where a naked Tomo is caught red (make that single) handed with a bunch of photos of Maria.
As 65 minutes simply fly, one can't help but feel disappointed by the introduction of the end credits, as these are characters we'd love to spend more time with. Better, then, to take this as a snapshot of moments in time from the lives of others. Images captured on celluloid that can replayed, just like memories of past sights and sounds from your own life, played out by people who were there for a short while and went on their way. Shane Meadows is fast becoming one of my favourite director's and this - his latest film - stacks up as one of the best British films of the past 12 months. SOMERS TOWN is an absolute joy, and deserves your attention.