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  Somers Town This Is The Age Of The Train
Year: 2008
Director: Shane Meadows
Stars: Piotr Jagiello, Ireneusz Czop, Thomas Turgoose, Perry Benson, Elisa Lasowski, Kate Dickie, Huggy Leaver
Genre: Comedy, DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: Teenaged Tomo (Thomas Turgoose) takes the train down from Nottingham to North London, running away from a life that he feels is a dead end for him and looking forward to fresh opportunities in this new location. On the way he meets and gets talking to a fellow passenger (Kate Dickie), thinking nothing of their conversation other than a way to pass the time. Meanwhile another teenager, Polish immigrant Marek (Piotr Jagiello), is feeling lonely as he spends most of his days waiting for his father (Ireneusz Czop) who works on the Channel Tunnel project.

And when they met - it was, well, it was a mild but charming effort from Shane Meadows, here in the director's chair with regular writer Paul Fraser penning the script. Following the work Meadows had completed before this, the highly acclaimed Dead Man's Shoes and This is England, this was judged to be very minor stuff, recognisably from his style but not amounting to very much in the long run. But it amounted to something for Eurostar, who had funded this, which gave some viewers a reason to take against what they saw as an extended advertising feature.

However, if you were unaware of the financial backing that the company behind the Chunnel (do they still call it that?) had provided, it was likely that you'd never know it until the fairy tale ending, which Meadows kept ambiguous as to whether it was a fantasy in the main character's mind or not, but can easily be seen as a wholehearted endorsement of popping over on the train to France for a holiday. If anything, it appeared to be more an advert for the French, as their country is depicted as some kind of magical land where dreams can come true.

Whether your dreams can be realised on a trip to Paris is a moot point, but for the most part Somers Town is more of a tale of the burgeoning friendship between two teenage boys who would not have met if it had not been for casual fate. Tomo ends up beaten up and his luggage stolen by a gang of three kids, which leads him to find solace with the woman he met on the journey down from the Midlands; she buys him a sandwich and gives him the train fare home, along with a few words of comfort. But then Tomo meets Marek in the cafe, he runs off with the boy's photographs as if to regain some of his former bravado, then gets to like the Polish chap.

There follows a few scrapes, as many as the just over an hour's running time will allow anyway, where they both fall for a French waitress called Maria (Elisa Lasowski) who works locally. As the homeless Tomo stays with his new friend under the nose of the father, they earn a little money doing odd jobs for slightly dodgy businessman Graham (Perry Benson) and steal a bag of clothes from the launderette to replace Tomo's stolen clobber, something that ends up with him forced to wear a dress tucked into "Rupert Bear trousers". While the heart of the film, other than its corporate message, is the companionship the duo find, there's also a nice affirmation of Europe joining together and getting along as a genuine community, summed up in the boys' newfound connection. It is slighter than Meadows fans were used to, that's true, but it was a decent enough way of spending an hour. Music by Gavin Clark.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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Shane Meadows  (1972 - )

British writer/director who graduated from two acclaimed short films into his own brand of features, set in ordinary British locations and concentrating on the humour and drama of everyday life: Twenty Four Seven, A Room for Romeo Brass and Once Upon a Time in the Midlands. 2004's Dead Man's Shoes was a change of direction, a rural revenge thriller that got some of his best reviews until the autobiographical This is England became regarded as his finest work, which he sequelised starting in 2010 for a television series.

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