Somers Town


Brief encounter, Meadows style...

First things first: yes, Somers Town at times plays like a St Pancras puff piece with added Brit-indie scuff (“That station, it’s amazing!”).

And yes, like its odd-buddy leads, it’s a slip of a flick. In a warmly garrulous DVD chat, director Shane Meadows admits he wasn’t sure about the project.

But with old mate Paul Fraser’s script in his mitts, the Midlands’ Scorsese saw potential in a chance encounter between two unlikely bedfellows: financial backers Eurostar and a grassroots visionary from Uttoxeter.

That sense of happy happenstance is the film’s core. Its theme is the unlikely double-up between Midlands rapscallion Tomo (Thomas Turgoose) and shy immigrant Marek (Piotr Jagiello), opposite extremes who are linked by loneliness in the big, unfriendly smoke and a joint crush on a French waitress.

Meadows’ on-the-hoof style teases truths from the set-up, ushering the leads to a point where their friendship seems of-the-moment and at once exuberant, witty and wistful.

Any romantic threads also cleave to conviction (“Pretty fit” is Tomo’s less-than-gushing verdict on the waitress) with the bittersweet tang of Truffaut’s Jules Et Jim, an influence implied by the director’s interview nods to the French New Wave.

As Meadows says, the result is a “fantastic accident”: unplanned but rooted in an honest serendipity, both in terms of its collaborative off-screen engine and its onscreen friendship.

He even reckons it’s made him happy to work “with undulation”. On this fresh, funny and touching form? Long may he undulate.

Kevin Harley

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