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Archive for the ‘Directed by Shane Meadows’ Category

Somers Town

10 Mar

Somers Town – Directed by Shane Meadows – Comedy. Two 15 year-old boys, one a runaway scamp from Scotland, the other a shy Polish photographer, fall in with one another and fall in love with the same pretty waitress. 71 minutes Black and White and Color 2008.

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This highly acclaimed film brought the work of this director to the pleasure of my attention, and I can do nothing but say, Check it out. The style is old-fashioned kitchen-sink, and at first I found it, as I do a lot of kitchen-sink drama, tedious. It also seemed to be played by two kids whom the director had dragged in off the street – we don’t want any more Andy Warhol in our lives, do we? But as soon as Perry Benson showed up as a scallywag street vendor and as soon Ireneusz Czop showed up as the father of the Polish boy, I had to revise my attention of the boys, for both older men are experienced actors of the first class, which is to say they are accomplished improvisationalists and, from the background of their own characters, can respond fully to the situation and persons around them. Thomas Turgoose plays the runaway as a lad of shrugging indifference to any feelings about his lost state, and Piotr Jagiello as the Polish boy is too ingrown to have any feelings. But is what is really true is that neither young actor is operating on a ground of back-story. They are simply operating on a ground of present being, which is why they appear flat and dull and apathetic at the start – which is exactly what they are supposed to be. When they join up, it is not their acting but the strangeness of their relationship at all that keeps one watching. How can these two people have a single thing to say to one another? Yet they do. For the plot dictates that they must. Their doings and their truancies become quite droll. And I soon realize that I am in the hands of a director who has considerable skill in achieving his ends. Improvisational acting usually dooms actors to falling back on their shtick. That simply means that in the long run the performers are too hardened in their response-capacity for anything actually to happen to them; they are not really playing characters; they are not really playing themselves, either; they are playing something that, in real life, is merely socially useful. And without imagination acting is useless, crass, and dull. Art, as always, lies in the imagination. What the director Shane Meadows has imagined is an arena in which imagination can take place, and that freedom grants the film its charm, its humor, and a place in which the audience can meet up with what is going on and respond. Elisa Lasowski as their light o’ love, and  Jane Dickie as a kindly acquaintance complete a perfectly cast and realized short film. Somers Town is a London ‘hood.  This is a tiny, telling vision of it.

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