VOD film review: Somers Town
Ivan Radford | On 15, May 2019
Director: Shane Meadows
Cast: Thomas Turgoose, Piotr Jagiello, Kate Dickie, Perry Benson, Elisa Lasowski
Watch Somers Town online in the UK: Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Rakuten TV / Google Play / Sky Store
Funded by Eurostar. Three words you don’t expect to hear everyday – especially when it involves a film directed by Shane Meadows. But that, nonetheless, is the unlikely origins of this delightful, unassuming gem. It takes its name from the area of London that surrounds King’s Cross, the hub for the international train link that reaches from the UK to France. To publicise the high-speed route, Eurostar’s marketing agency came up with the idea of a short film, and approached Meadows to make it. It’s to their credit that they gave him free rein to turn it into a feature-length film – and to Meadows’ credit that the finished product turns out heartfelt and entirely organic.
Meadows has always been an expert at observation, and creating a space in which his cast can behave naturally. Even at just 75 minutes, this seemingly slight affair is packed full of tiny details observed up close in microscopic intimacy. Thomas Turgoose, whose remarkable turn in Meadows’ This Is England launched a career, is equally striking here as Tomo, a young boy who runs away from a lonely life in Nottingham hoping for something better. An encounter with some thugs later, he crosses paths with Marek (Piotr Jagiello), a Polish teen who likes photography and taking photographs of French waitress Maria (Elisa Lasowski).
The pair fall in with each other, and Meadows is content for the majority of his runtime to do the same, following them around London on miniature escapades – from finding a wheelchair to give Maria a ride home from work to helping a local wheeler-dealer with his get-rich-quick schemes. Paul Fraser’s script is the stuff anti-drama is made of, and the pair’s chemistry does much of the heavy-lifting in a movie that’s as light as a feather, content breezing along with a gentle sense of humour.
Underneath it, though, lingers a sadness and difficulty that has brought each boy so far, from Tomo’s home life, which he doesn’t like to discuss, to Marek’s father, a heavy-drinker who’s working on the Eurostar link. That slight grit is echoed by the monochrome cinematography, which balances mundane, unfussy realism with a deceptive beauty – a beauty that builds to a warmth that Eurostar’s PR team would be pleased with, but feels completely genuine and earned. A kind tale of international bonds, this is a gorgeous celebration of friendship as much as trains.
Somers Town is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.