Find­ing com­fort in the kind­ness of strangers

SOMERS TOWN Di­rected by Shane Mead­ows. Star­ring Thomas Tur­goose, Kate Dickie, Piotr Jagiello, Ireneusz Czop

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Filmreviews - DON­ALD CLARKE

12A cert, Cineworld/IFI/Screen, Dublin, 75 min SOMERS Town is only 70 min­utes long, it’s al­most en­tirely in black and white, and it’s a kind of up­scale promo for Eurostar. Yet, in the hands of Shane Mead­ows, Eng­land’s great­est sen­ti­men­tal re­al­ist, this un­likely film emerges as one of the finest of the sea­son.

Asked by Eurostar to make a fea­ture set in the penum­bra of St Pan­cras Sta­tion, home to the Lon­don end of the Chan­nel Tun­nel rail link, Mead­ows, who had just fin­ished work on his bril­liant This Is Eng­land, hummed and hawed be­fore be­ing won over by a sweet script from his long-term col­lab­o­ra­tor, Paul Fraser.

The re­sult­ing film, whose ref­er­ences to its spon­sor are fleet­ing, is lit­tle more than an ex­tended sketch, but the per­for­mances are so se­cure and the sim­ple story so sat­is­fy­ing that it fully de­serves ex­hi­bi­tion on the big screen.

Thomas Tur­goose, the de­light­fully nat­u­ral star of This Is Eng­land, ap­pears as a teenage run­away flee­ing Not­ting­ham, Mead­ows’s usual stamp­ing ground, for the per­ils and prospects of Lon­don. Within hours of his ar­rival in Somers Town, an es­tate bor­der­ing Kings Cross, he gets beaten up by the lo­cal toughs and has all his pos­ses­sions stolen.

Af­ter ac­cept­ing a few quid from a kindly Scot­tish lady (Kate Dickie from Red Road), he makes friends with a Pol­ish im­mi­grant (Piotr Jagiello) and finds work rent­ing deckchairs for a lo­cal wide boy (Perry Ben­son).

Fans of Mead­ows’s ear­lier work will note the re­turn of cer­tain themes. Once again a teenager em­barks on re­la­tion­ships with older males who, we ini­tially sus­pect, may not have his best in­ter­ests in mind. But Mead­ows is an op­ti­mist in mat­ters of the hu­man spirit. As the story pro­gresses, this po­ten­tially grim film takes on a sun­nier as­pect. With the cred­its loom­ing, it even al­lows a lit­tle colour on to the screen.

Jules et Jim for geezers, Kes for pos­i­tive thinkers, Somers Town con­firms that, even op­er­at­ing at half-speed, Mead­ows still looks like one of our era’s most sin­gu­lar direc­tors. Don’t let this lit­tle beauty pass you by.

Tough enough: Thomas Tur­goose and Piotr Jagiello in Somers Town

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