Somers Town, 2008.
Directed by Shane Meadows.
Starring Thomas Turgoose and Piotr Jagiello.
Tomo (Thomas Turgoose) a homeless boy from the Midlands and Marek (Piotr Jagiello) a Polish immigrant come from completely different worlds. When they forge an unlikely friendship, they discover that despite their differences, they are very much alike.
Somers Town is another installment in the impressive list of director Shane Meadows’ (This is England, Dead Man’s Shoes) creations. The location (London) is set with an opening montage, a technique which is now customary of Meadows films. Characteristic of films focused around the friendship of two unlikely comrades, the early stages of Somers Town switches between the contrasting situations of Tomo and Marek. Tomo has arrived in London with nowhere to stay and a few modest possessions. Tomo has been released from social care in Nottingham, leaving behind no friends or family, he is completely alone in this dangerous city. Marek lives with his father but in many respects suffers the same isolation that Tomo does. Marek’s father is a hard working builder, whose life revolves around drinking with his friends and showing off his strength. This intense masculine environment is clearly something that Marek, a quiet, thoughtful and sensitive boy struggles to relate to. Marek is more interested in photography, and life’s simple beauties.
After Tomo is brutally assaulted and robbed, a kind woman buys him breakfast at a café; this is where he meets Marek. On the surface Tomo is the opposite to Marek; cheeky, demanding and seedy, so it was inevitable that he would have to make the first move if these two were ever to become friends. Tomo’s in your face attitude is somewhat alien to Marek but after a brief misunderstanding they quickly make up and the foundations to a friendship are laid (as is often the case with young boys). One of the strongest themes in the film is companionship, or more specifically a lack of companionship, the latter being the reason for Marek’s immediate trustworthy attitude towards Tomo. Marek allows Tomo to stay with him, although he keeps this secret from his father.
Despite Marek and Tomo’s many differences, one thing they certainly have in common is their infatuation with a beautiful French waitress called Maria. At first their rivalry for her attention is a source of conflict, but it soon becomes the glue that bonds them together. Their attempts to please Maria are slightly unorthodox but at the same time very unique, in one instance they push her all the way home in an abandoned wheelchair. Although their obsession with Maria appears to be one of lust (especially for Tomo) it is partly fuelled by a lack of a mother, or source of female warmth in their lives. This notion is exemplary of one of the many similarities between Tomo and Marek, which become ever more transparent as the film progresses; a lack of camaraderie, boredom, curiosity, a failure to understand their position in life and most importantly of all, their burning desire for friendship.
When first viewing the film I felt the ending (which like the beginning is summerised with Meadows’ usual montage technique) was rather abrupt, the film is only 68 minutes long. I pondered whether or not there could have potentially been another half an hour in the screenplay. In the end I came to the conclusion that the inevitable did not require dragging out, and although the montage was slightly predictable in the sense it was shot in colour (contrasted to the rest of the film which is in black and white) it was an appropriate resolution. The film contains all the feel good factors of a cheesey rom-com, yet the witty (and sometimes very crude) humour, heartwarming characters and subtle representation of life’s harsh realities makes Somers Town a clever piece of social realism.
British Cinema: Dead Man’s Shoes (2004)
British Cinema: Le Donk & Scor-zay-zee (2009)
A Time to Belong – This is England and the subversion of the skinhead