Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Review: Somers Town (2008)

Tomo and Marek.

Directed by Shane Meadows
Produced by Barnaby Spurrier
Written by Paul Fraser (screenplay); Mother Vision (idea)
Starring Thomas Turgoose, Piotr Jagiello, Ireneusz Czop, Perry Benson, Elisa Lasowski and Kate Dickie

****

Shane Meadows' follow-up to his critically acclaimed film This is England is lesser known, but it features young Thomas Turgoose in another great performance. In the simplest of beginnings, Tomo (Turgoose) arrives in London with a bag of his few belongings, having left his home in Nottingham. He soon meets Marek (Jagiello), a Polish immigrant who takes photographs and is learning English from his father (Czop). The two boys develop a friendship, and pine over a local waitress named Maria (Lasowski). Meanwhile, they also do odd jobs for Graham (Benson), a neighbor in Marek's apartment building. It's a small narrative, but a very engaging one.

Shot primarily in black-and-white, this film captures the beauty and bleakness of English working-class neighborhoods. There isn't much grittiness (especially compared to Meadows' previous movie), yet the film has a quiet power in its simplicity. While the cast delivers good performances all around, it is Turgoose's work that stands out. He's a more than capable actor, who hasn't worked much since this film was released, unfortunately. Another wonderful contribution is the original song score by Gavin Clark, which is simple, yet enchanting. It all comes together under Meadows' fine direction and Fraser's thin screenplay. Though it doesn't have the shock value of This is England, it has its own charm that makes me admire Meadows even more. For one of the best films in the last few years, try Somers Town.

Oscar Tally: None

4 comments:

  1. I haven't seen this but, unquestionably, it's right up my alley. I wonder why Meadows decided to portray English working class neighborhoods in a somewhat softer light?

    Excellent review, as always, Josh!

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    1. I'm not sure, but it's a refreshing change of pace after This is England. Though I love both, I prefer Somers Town, actually.

      Thanks, Steph!

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    2. Interesting ... I look forward to seeing it.

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