‘Somers Town’ portrays London teenagers with honesty, humor

  • By Robert Horton Herald Movie Critic
  • Thursday, September 17, 2009 4:57pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

Every movie project has its own genesis, but the origins of “Somers Town” are more unusual than most.

Eurostar, the company that runs the London-to-Paris train route, commissioned British filmmaker Shane Meadows to create a movie that had something to do with the neighborhood in which their new London terminal station was being built.

That neighborhood is called, you guessed it, Somers Town. While this concept smacks of crass commercialization, Meadows has always been a scrupulously independent, socially concerned director. He took the job.

And in fact, “Somers Town” turns out much like Meadows’ previous kitchen-sink, working-class Brit-flicks (“Once Upon a Time in the Midlands” and “A Room for Romeo Brass” among them). Its star, Thomas Turgoose, plays a slightly older variation on the streetwise adolescent he played in Meadows’ 2006 film “This is England.”

Turgoose plays Tomo, a kid from Nottingham who gathers up some money, leaves a lousy home situation and heads to London. He’s quickly robbed by street toughs, but he wants to stick in London.

Piotr Jagiello plays Marek, whose father has come to England from Poland to work on the new rail station. Meeting up and bonding over the most trivial things, Tomo and Marek buddy around town for a while.

This movie is made up of the slimmest excuses for drama: some parental abrasiveness, minor shoplifting and the boys’ shared worship of a waitress, Maria (Elisa Lasowski).

The movie’s barely more than 70 minutes, in black and white (mostly), and it’s about homeless kids and immigrant struggles. But believe me when I say this movie will make you feel good.

Maybe that’s because there’s something simple and universal about the wishes and hopes of these two teenagers but nothing hokey or antiseptic about the way these are presented. And it has a healthy sense of humor.

There’s something to be said for a movie that creates a glow around itself, even in a short form (and even, somehow, when financed by a train company). “Somers Town” creates that glow, honestly earned.

“Somers Town”

A very small film (just over 70 minutes) about two teens in London, one homeless, the other an immigrant. Director Shane Meadows and his actors create a glow around this situation, using a minimum of dramatic situations and a realistic, kitchen-sink approach.

Rated: Not rated, probably PG-13 for language, subject matter

Showing: Varsity

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