Being a Teenager is not all Black & White
"Somers Town" is a curious movie because on one hand it is this entertaining look at two teenagers in London, a semi coming of age style drama as a runaway from Nottingham befriends a lonely Polish boy. But on the other hand it is a very arty movie, shot in black & white where you can tell that locations have been picked due to their striking architecture. What that means for me is that "Somers Town" is a mixed bag which one moment will amuse as it observes some typical teenage life filled with naivety but then bores you when it tries to be arty.
With nothing for him in Nottingham young Tomo (Thomas Turgoose - This Is England) heads down to London with just a solitary bag of possessions and finds things tough when he gets roughed up by a group of boys. But Tomo meets Marek (Piotr Jagiello), a Polish boy who whilst living with his construction father has little to do other than wandering the streets taking photos. After meeting in a cafe they become friends with a shared like of pretty waitress Maria (Elisa Lasowski) but with Marek hiding Tomo in his room it is only a matter of time before his father discovers what they are up to.
Basically "Somers Town" is a sporadic movie which at times brings a huge smile to your face with its observations on being a teenager but far too often bores you when it goes arty. And unfortunately with it being almost all in black & white it is the arty side of the movie which dominates and forms your lasting impression. Now for those who enjoy arty movies there is plenty to enjoy especially with some great choices of location from a view over looking a train station to the curving lattice work of bricks on the front of a building. But at the same time this arty side often feels like nothing happens, long periods of observing nothing which ended up driving me mad.
And that is a shame because when the focus is solely on observing two naive teenagers and their way of thinking it borders on the brilliant. It brings a huge smile on your face when having learned that Maria has returned to Paris Tomo suggests that one day they can visit her drink red wine, eat cheese and bread because in his mind that is what you do in France. And at the same time when they steal a bag of laundry because Tomo has no clothes, the make do attempt to turn a woman's dress and check trousers into something passable is just as much fun. But it is all very real, director Shane Meadows and screenplay writer Paul Fraser do a good job of tapping in to how young people actually think, how they have a bit of naivety which stops them from realising what they are doing such as the brilliant scene where Tomo makes out to Maria that he is an artist and painted lots of things.
Now I keep mentioning Tomo because whilst "Somers Town" features entertaining performances from Piotr Jagiello as Marek and Elisa Lasowski as Maria it is again young Thomas Turgoose who makes the movie. Turgoose just has a way about him that makes it feels like he's not acting but being himself in a scene so we may have him acting a bit whiney one moment but the next you have the comical naivety but then also a bit of emotion. And to be honest considering Turgoose spends part of the movie wearing a dress he certainly shows no embarrassment for doing something that some young actors would fear ruin their credibility.
What this all boils down to is that "Somers Town" is a mixed bag because the arty side of the movie just doesn't work for me and often makes it drag. But the observations of two teenagers becoming friends is full of humour and a lot of reality which makes it sporadically entertaining.