Although I haven’t seen all of Shane Meadows’ films, I consider myself a fan after seeing his two excellent flicks, Dead Man’s Shoes and This Is England. Somers Town is his latest; a short and sweet tale that’s funny, enjoyable and very hard to dislike.
While visiting London to get away from home for a while, young Tomo meets up with a Polish boy roughly the same age as him, the day after getting beaten up by a gang. The film follows the two as they become friends and what happens when they meet an older girl they both fancy.
In relation to Meadows’ other films this is decisively tame, if I may use such a strong word. It’s not that it doesn’t deal with issues we have come to expect from the film-maker but it deals with them in a less harsh and brash way. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, in fact it gives a calming break from some of the heavier films in the director’s catalogue, but it’s just unusual to see.
Meadows’ has made the choice to have the majority of the film in black and white and it was a great choice to make. It somehow makes the film that much more realistic and even makes you take more notice of whatever is happening on-screen than if it had been done entirely in colour.
I couldn’t believe that young Thomas Turgoose gave his first ever performance in Meadows’, This Is England, last year. For a first timer that performance was superb and I could tell that he is going to go far in the film industry from there on out. In Somers Town Turgoose has gained that much needed confidence and an abundance of charisma to go along with it. Some of the lines he comes out with in this film had me, and the rest of the audience, in stitches laughing. What compensates from the lack of all-out powerful scenes that we’re used to from Meadows, take This Is England as a strong example, is the sense of humour layered throughout the film. Nothing that happens on-screen is even half as brash and primal as anything in This Is England or Dead Man’s Shoes but when it comes down to it I guess this isn’t supposed to be like Meadows’ other films. I think it’s meant for us to see a lighter side to the film-maker, a side we didn’t necessarily know he had. It has the type of humour that’s “funny because it’s true”, a type of humour I very much appreciate from time to time.