Shane Meadows is a UK based director who gained recognition for his film This is England is about skin-heads. A most unlikely project to make a short film for the EuroStar Company (the train between England and France) resulted in Somer Town, directed by Mr. Meadows and written by a childhood friend of his, Paul Fraser.
Somers Town is an area in central London between Camden, Kings Cross and St. Pancras. Known as being a very distinct entity since the 17th century it became a culturally diverse home to refugees and immigrants at the start of the 19th century with the insurgence of the railway industry.
The film is about two young lads who live in the town of the title. Marek, is a Polish immigrant who lives with his father, a EuroStar employee. Tomo is an English runaway from the midlands. The unlikely friends bond over petty theft, getting drunk and their crush on the French waitress at the café they frequent.
About a third of the film is in Polish, which I speak and understand fluently. I did not read the subtitles save to see how they translated colloquial phrases- which they did fairly well. Dr. J only understood the Polish swear words (I taught him well or perhaps he retains very selectively). The rest of the film was in thick British working class accents, which both of us found hard to understand at times.
In the DVD interview Mr. Meadows reflects on his revelation that despite language barriers the two Polish actors (Marek and his father Piort) stood out in the casting call and were easy to direct despite the need for a translator. Mr. Meadows credits this with their flawless acting.
Perry Benson, who plays an uncle figure to the boys in the film all but steals the show with his highly hilarious character. He plays the sort of man that seems dodgy but really is not. Mr. Benson described the cast as working together ‘musically like Jazz’ and said that the ten day shoot had long days that were made bearable by Mr. Meadows visions to achieve perfection.
The film is shot almost entirely in black and white; some suggested, to achieve a dark and artsy vibe or to signify the films grit. Mr. Meadows talks about how the ten day shoot and the desire for uniformity, which in a highly precipitous region where the film is shot, would have been impossible if not done in black and white.
Both Dr. J and I enjoyed this film; a sweet story about coming of age, independence, love and loneliness, in its 70 minute entirety, it captures these sentiments radiantly. It has won awards at the Tribeca Film Festival and the Edinburgh Film Festival and was selected as one of the monthly films chosen by the: Film Movement- a really cool film club I wish I was a member of,-to learn more go to: http://www.filmmovement.com
Great Review in the Village Voice, including synopsis:
as well as the New York Times: