Shane Meadows’ seventh feature takes its title from the working class residential area situated between London’s Euston and King’s Cross railway stations. Originally financed by Eurostar as a short film to promote the service’s new terminus at St Pancras, Meadows’ has expanded his brief to tell a vividly drawn story of childhood friendship and to paint a vibrant portrait of a part of the big smoke that is in all likelihood soon to be gentrified out of existence.
Somers Town reunites Meadows with Thomas Turgoose, his teenage protégé and star of his skinhead movie This is England, and also with Paul Fraser, Meadows’ mate since childhood and a regular screenwriting collaborator. And the filmmaker is well served by both, with Turgoose turning in another charmingly cheeky naturalistic performance and Fraser penning a simple but effective story about a friendship between a runaway lad from the Midlands and the son of a Polish migrant worker (Piotr Jagiello) living in London. The boys are supported by Meadows’ usual mix of professional and non-professional actors, and among the former are good-looking girls Kate Red Road Dickie and Elisa Eastern Promises Lasowski and likely lads Perry Benson (This is England, but also Minder) and familiar character actor Huggy Leaver (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Freebird), all of whom play pleasantly surprising altruistic characters.
With its uniformly upbeat tone and minimal plotting, brief running time and black and white photography, Somers Town is a modest film that feels like what it is: a longish short. But nice things often come in small packages, as is the case here.
Selected release from Fri 22 Aug.