Sunday 24 August 2008

Somers Town (2008) - ickleReview (cinema)

Beautiful little Shane Meadows film set in Somers Town, a high-rise housing estate near St Pancras station in London. Thomas Turgoose (whose face will be familiar from Meadows's previous film, This Is England) plays Tomo, a young boy who has come to London from Nottingham. It's not clear why he has left home, but he doesn't want to go back. He makes friends with Marek (Piotr Jagiello) a Polish boy who lives in one of the high-rise flats with his dad, Mariusz (Ireneusz Czop), a builder working on the new St Pancras International rail terminal. The two boys befriend and fall in love with Maria (Elisa Lasowski), a pretty young French waitress from the local café who let Marek take her picture.

There isn't really a plot to this film; but this is not a flaw. We never find out why Tomo left Nottingham. Meadows only sketches a faint background for the characters. But they are warm and believable. It's an affectionate portrait of Polish migrant workers. Both Marek and his dad are noble and upbeat characters. Mariusz is proud that his boss says he is one of the best workers he has ever had, which is typical of the work ethic the Polish workers have earned for themselves all over the UK. The film also deals with violent youth culture as Tomo is mugged by three local lads who take his bag with all his possessions in it and his money.

The film is shot in black and white with the exception of a short colour sequence at the end, the details of which I shall leave as a surprise so as not to spoil it any further. Gavin Clark's acoustic soundtrack perfectly complements the images.

Nugget: a lovely, gentle film about friendship, love, and life in modern Britain, which works perfectly alongside the short film Dog Altogether with which it was shown at the Phoenix Picturehouse, Oxford.

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