Based on the true childhood experiences of Noah Baumbach and his brother, The Squid and the Whale tells the touching story of two young boys dealing with their parents' divorce in Brooklyn in the 1980s.
Two bumbling store clerks inadvertently erase the footage from all of the tapes in their video rental store. In order to keep the business running, they re-shoot every film in the store with their own camera, with a budget of zero dollars.
Two teenagers, both newcomers to London, forge an unlikely friendship over the course of a hot summer. Tomo is a runaway from Nottingham; Marek lives in the district of Somers Town, between King's Cross and Euston stations, where his dad is working on a new rail link. The boys are both infatuated with the same girl, and pass their days bickering over which of them loves her the most. Finding himself homeless, Tomo surreptitiously moves into Marek's bedroom - but it's only a matter of time before Marek's dad discovers what's going on... Written by
Neil Young, Sunderland
Shane Meadows has become somewhat of an icon in British low budget film-making. After watching 'A Room for Romeo Brass' a while ago and experiencing something special, I remember expecting my interest and excitement to die out in his future films as they would almost inevitably move deeper into the Hollywood money-making machine. But after the enormously unexpected marvel that was 'Dead Man's Shoes' and the continued success with 'This is England', Meadows is still giving us astounding cinema.
Somers Town is the story of a clearly troubled but confident teen from the Midlands, Tomo, getting on a train to London seeking something that never seems to become clear. Although many will understandably want to know more about his past, this mystery only adds to the fascination that stays with the viewer throughout the film, and in my case, also a good deal of time afterwards. After a few distressing encounters, which oddly cause more distress for the audience than appears for Tomo, he meets and becomes good friends with Marek, a young Polish boy. The simple but surprisingly intriguing plot continues to unfold and doesn't allow for a moment of boredom or lapse in concentration.
While continuing the social realism that British low budget cinema has become famous for, Meadows adds touches of originality in terms of shooting and aesthetic pleasure. From the strange optically illusory panels on the blocks of flats to the carefully thought out and perfectly constructed framing of shots, there are always moments that are not only attractive to filmmakers but also on a more subconscious level to those who might not spot these details. The beauty doesn't stop at visuals however, as the film delivers a soundtrack capturing the emotions and atmosphere intended as accurately as I've ever seen.
While the film itself contains enough artistic ability and heart-warming hilarity to please any hedonist, the messages being sent out should also be taken seriously as they provide a light able to bring colour (despite the film being in black and white) to the bleakness that seems to be looming over British society today. The fact that Tomo and Marek's friendship feels so ashamedly incongruous speaks for itself. To anyone with open eyes and a sharp mind, this problem is quite clearly apparent (unfortunately however, often too uncomfortable to talk about) and we can only remain hopeful that the recent success of political parties such as the BNP in London doesn't last much longer. In recommending this film to younger generations, a positive message can be circled where it might have the most effect, and those alarmingly frequent and ignorant comments that we all experience at some point (such as one of the more intelligent comments I recently heard: "F**k multiculturalism") can begin a steady decline.
All in all, Somers Town is another refreshingly passionate film from Shane Meadows, undoubtedly drawing on events from his own personal experiences, just as he recently stated about his darker film 'This is England'. As always, he has used his heart as well as his imaginative mind in the film-making process. He seems to be attacking a growing number of genres in his unique way and will hopefully stick to his roots in creating more films that are realistic and inspiring in the future. Aspiring filmmakers should watch and take note.
31 of 39 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?