Somers Town

5 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

A film you simply never want to end, Somers Town turns the pain of teenage solitude into a gooey grin of recognition. It’s essentially about the way adolescent boys connect—particularly outsiders, circling each other without the proper words. Young Tomo (Turgoose), a Northern Englander, travels solo by train to London wearing his only tracksuit. Mugged promptly on arrival, the lad tells a kindly stranger he can’t take her money for a ticket home, because he has nothing to return to. Meanwhile, Marek (Jagiello), a shy Polish immigrant speaking halting English, watches his single dad leave for a labor job daily, but has little purpose of his own. When these two kids meet and start to scheme, you can’t help but melt with optimism.

Director Shane Meadows has, at the grand age of 36, made an almost inconceivable six features, taking him from gritty maturation dramas to romantic schmaltz and plenty of honest, thick-forearmed sentiment. Never, though, has he packed as much elegance as he does into his black-and-white latest, shot around the scuzzy, low-rise area near a depot. (The idea of transition is never far from your mind.) Tomo and Marek do stupid things boys do—playing with an abandoned wheelchair, stealing stuff, nursing not-so-innocent crushes on a cute, local waitress. Meadows is right there with them, never a dispassionate observer. Is that enough for a film? Certainly. The quiet loveliness of the movie comes in its poise, pitched exactly at the moment when self-protective toughness yields to a tentative camaraderie. Rarely do directors understand their preoccupations so completely.—Joshua Rothkopf

David Fear's appreciation of director Shane Meadow's back catalog

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