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3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
Somers Town [Blu-ray]
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 8 May 2012
Shane Meadow's 2008 film Somers Town is a slight, but increasingly infectious little gem of a film. I recall that when I originally saw the film at the cinema I was not overly impressed, thinking that it did not compare in stature with the likes of his earlier classics such as A Room For Romeo Brass, Dead Man's Shoes and This Is England. However, on repeat viewings of the film on DVD, its appeal has steadily increased for me and I would now put it in the same category (quality and scale-wise) with such other minor (recent) gems as Pawel Pawlikowki's Last Resort, Eran Creevey's Shifty and Tom Harper's The Scouting Book For Boys.

Somers Town showcases the acting talents of Shane Meadows' regular Thomas Turgoose playing the (nearly) street-wise, 16-year old Tomo, who has made his way down from 'the North' (Nottingham, in fact), escaping from his broken family and trying to make his way in the Smoke (i.e. London) - in particular, in the Somers Town area near Kings Cross. Whilst Turgoose was undoubtedly impressive in This Is England, here he has an even more substantial role, being on screen virtually for the entire 68 minutes of this short film, and he more than lives up to what is required of the role, putting in an outstanding performance in his impressive portrayal of a mix of up front bravado (including some hilarious sequences) and underlying vulnerability. Director Meadows, together with his regular script-writer Paul Fraser, have constructed a beautifully poignant (and, by turns, funny and tragic) tale as Tomo meets up with lonely Polish immigrant Marek (an impressive film debut performance by Piotr Jagiello) and the two embark on a series of small-scale adventures. Acting-wise, Meadows completes his casting by including another of his regular collaborators, the marvellous Perry Benson, who delivers another hilarious turn as small-scale market trader, wit and wide boy Graham, Ireneusz Czop, who is impressive playing Makek's father Mariusz, and Elisa Lasowski as Maria, the girl with whom both Tomo and Marek become infatuated.

In Somers Town, Meadows' simple, realist approach to film-making is perfectly complemented by his chosen soundtrack, which comprises a beautifully atmospheric set of compositions written by Gavin Clark, with whom Meadows worked on his earlier films Twenty Four Seven and Small Time. The film is also impressively shot in black and white by cinematographer Natasha Braier, who has managed to strike a skilful balance between the run-down look of the London housing estates and the settings for some of the lighter, more romantic passages of the film. All these elements have been skilfully brought together by Meadows with the effect of transforming Somers Town from being a very insubstantial affair into something magical, and certainly worth its place in the oeuvre of one of the finest film directors working in the UK currently.

The DVD also includes a number of interesting extras including interviews with Messrs. Meadows, Turgoose, Jagiello and Benson on the making of Somers Town, and (most impressively) an insightful and educational Master Class at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York, in which Meadows and Fraser describe in some detail their approach to film-making.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 9 September 2012
I'm a fan of Shane Meadows' films and the first one that I ever saw was 'Somers Town' (2008). Despite being nowhere near as gritty and hard hitting as his other work, 'Somers Town' is a charming British comedy.

Filmed mostly in black and white, the movie is an insight into an unlikely friendship between two young teenagers called Tomo (played by 'This Is England' star Thomas Turgoose) and Marek (played by Piotr Jagiello). At first, it seems that both lads couldn't be more different from each other. Tomo is streetwise and has recently been released from social care, running away to London. There he meets Marek, a keen photographer who is quiet and sensitive. As things transpire, the lads find that they have more in common than they could have ever imagined. Both have had difficult home lives and appear to have no other friends. They have also fallen for the same girl who works in the cafe.

'Somers Town' was a simple story, but delightful and funny. Despite being very different from other Shane Meadows movies, I found it a refreshing change.
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on 24 January 2015
Yet another superb film from the superb direction of Shane Meadows. All of Shane Meadows are great, funny, and very "bittersweet," quite mickey taking of the extreme sections of the working class. Very watchable, well acted and well scripted withiout much input from Shane Meadows - the actors simply improvise.
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on 23 August 2017
Good watchable film but probably my least favourite Shane Meadows film, certainly no Dead Mans Shoes or Romeo Brass
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on 5 September 2017
Brilliant, love it!
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on 8 April 2017
great film a must
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on 13 July 2017
Watch everything by Shane Meadows. Do it.
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on 9 September 2017
A bit slow nothing compared to Dead Mens Shoes, or This Is England, but still ok.
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This is the first time I have sat through a Shane Meadow's film and been anything other than totally impressed. I am not sure if it was just because I wasn't in the right frame of mine when I sat down to it (I was very tired and unable to concentrate hard) or if it's just an unengaging film, but I really found unable to connect with the characters or care about the story.

It's a tale of Thommo (Thomas Turgoose), running away from life in Nottingham to see the big city. Once there he strikes a `friendship' with Marek, son of a Polish construction worker in Somers Town, near King's Cross/St Pancras. They have a series of unlikely adventures based around their shared passion for Maria, a French girl who is a waitressing at a local cafe, and their involvement with a local dodgy wheeler dealer geezer.

The film is made with Meadow's usual gritty realism and eye for the detail of everyday life, from the images of the young lad on the train making polite everyday conversation, to the council estates in which the characters live. This is juxtaposed with flashes of humour that sometimes tickle, but in the main do little more than raise a weak smile. The basic flaw, I felt, was the character of Thommo. After having spent an hour in his company I really couldn't stand him, or the way he bullies and abuses Marek. Marek was also irritating in that he never even tried to stand up for himself. Theirs is a very abusive relationship, and I felt both characters were people I have varying levels of distaste for. Especially the quite horrible Thommo. Because of this I just could not get involved in their story.

That's not to say I think the actors are bad, I think they did a great job of portraying their characters. And occasionally there was a moment that was either sweet or funny that I could relate to or was amused by. But overall it was a film that left me pretty cold and bored.

The ending is a bit at odds with the rest of the film. It seems a bit fairy tale, and almost a commercial for the Eurostar. I like the oversaturated film technique though, it took me right back the home films of the early eighties.

All in all, not a film I engaged with very much, so only 2 stars.
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VINE VOICEon 26 May 2009
The publicity surrounding this film on cinema release was pretty impressive due to the fact that Shane Meadows's previous films have been pretty gritty, however it did deliver the goods. Shot in black and white, it's the story of Tomo, a teenager running away from a dodgy home life in Nottingham who journeys down to Somers Town (near St Pancras, London) and meets Polish immigrant Marek who lives with his construction worker father in a nearby estate. They form a bond after Tomo is mugged and both become enamoured with a Parisian waitress who works in a cafe nearby.

I found the characterisation to be particularly adept and Meadows weaves a number of amusing situations throughout the screenplay, one highlight of which was when Tomo steals a bag of clothing from a laundrette and ends up looking like 'a female golfer!' There is also an amusing moment when the boys' dodgy dealer/trader extracts a tenner from deep within his underpants. Many of the locations of the film were familiar to my husband, who grew up in the area and some of his family still reside in the area. I found the running time at 68 minutes to be perfect but the fantasy type ending kind of ruined an impressive film as it really hammered the point home that Meadows was hired to produce a film to publicise the new St Pancras Eurostar terminal.
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