Somers Town (12A)



Drama (2008)
71mins UK

Starring: Piotr Jagiello, Thomas Turgoose, Ireneusz Czop, Elisa Lasowski, Perry Benson, Kate Dickie
Director: Shane Meadows
Writer(s): Paul Fraser
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Sixteen-year-old runaway Tommo arrives in London with a bag of clothes and a little cash to his name. Mugged for his belongings, he wanders the streets begging for food and shelter, eventually finding a friend in Polish immigrant Marek, whose father Marius is a labourer on the new Eurostar terminal at St Pancras. Marek agrees to hide Tommo in the cramped flat he shares with Marius, and the two boys become unlikely buddies, even harbouring a crush on the same French waitress. However, Tommo cannot live unseen forever in the apartment, forcing the youngster to make hard choices about his future.

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LondonNet Film Review
Somers Town

There's a very critical detail about the making of Somers Town that, if you don't know it from the outset, will allow you to love director Shane Meadows' follow-up to This Is England unreservedly...

Somers Town. Optimum ReleasingIf you're not so naive, you might elicit a few eye rolls, but the coming-of-age tale of a young runaway and a Polish teen who meet at London's Kings Cross remains one of the year's most heart-warming films.

Marek (Piotr Jagiello), a 15-year-old who betters his English by reading raunchy advice columns, has only his photography to minimise loneliness as his construction worker father leaves (repeatedly) for drinking binges with friends. That is, until he takes in a 16-year-old just off the train from Nottingham like a stray puppy. And Tomo (This Is England's Thomas Turgoose), however smooth-talking, isn't much more able to care for himself than a mangy mutt after being beaten and robbed in an alley.

The teens strike an unlikely friendship, which - comically - involves low-wage labour for their cockney neighbour Graham (a heavy Elvis-impersonator type, Perry Benson) and unfruitful searches for a second outfit for Tomo. Their only source of competition is a mutual infatuation with the long-locked waitress at their local café (Elisa Lasowski).

Somers Town. Optimum ReleasingSomers Town is full of legitimately funny one-liners (listen for Tomo's kitchen-table enquiry about the type of work Graham will require of him) and builds to a legitimately touching conclusion (shot in colour, as opposed to the bulk of the flick's black and white). The film deservingly should cement Meadows' spot as one of the moment's most promising British directors, which might make the next fact come as quite a shock.

The film originally was supposed to be a 12-minute advert for Eurostar to commemorate the train line's opening at St Pancras International last year. But as Meadows kept shooting, he rolled out a short feature of 75 minutes.

Questionable collaboration aside, Somers Town should make BAFTA-winning Meadows proud. And it's not as if this is the first time moviemakers have gone commercial to fund projects. Did anyone see Sex and the City or Castaway?

- Jill Hilbrenner


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