Review by Jack Foley
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Interviews with Shane Meadows, Thomas Turgoose, Piotr Jagiello and Perry Benson; Shane Meadows Master class at Tribeca Film Festival; TV Spots; Trailer.
THE pairing of Shane Meadows and Thomas Turgoose helped to turn This Is England into one of the films of 2007, albeit a tough and uncompromising one at times.
Their reunion, for Somers Town, maintains the quality but offers a surprisingly feel-good experience as well.
Turgoose plays plucky orphan Tomo who, within minutes of arriving in London to escape his Nottingham hometown, gets mugged. Thereafter, he meets shy Polish teenager Marek (Piotr Jagiello) and the pair form an unlikely friendship, devising unlikely money-making schemes to occupy their days and to attract the attention of the local coffee shop’s attractive French waitress (Elisa Lasowski).
Ironically, Somers Town was originally conceived as a corporate video for Eurostar, who commissioned the director to devise something that would mark the building of its international terminal at London’s St Pancras. Hence, Marek’s Polish dad is constantly working on the project.
But having seen the result of the director’s vision, it was decided that this engaging slice of cross-cultural friendship would make an affecting little cinema crowd-pleaser. Shot in black-and-white, and clocking in at a trim 75 minutes, it’s a light-hearted character study that offers some typically astute social observations, some wonderfully wry comedy and a keen eye for the particular corner of London it focuses upon.
Turgoose is brilliant as Tomo, whose cockiness is expertly balanced by a fine line in self-deprecating humour (witness his ever-changing wardrobe), and whose friendship with Marek is developed in both amusing and touching fashion (much like it is with Lasowski’s waitress).
There’s also a cracking little supporting performance from Perry Benson, as a Del Boy style loser who also befriends Tomo.
The best thing about Somers Town, however, is the way that it takes a familiar concept – coming-of-age – and transforms it into something life-affirming and original. It’s virtually guaranteed to leave a smile on your face.
Running time: 75mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: January 12, 2009