View Before Viewing Somers Town August 20, 2008 Before the release of ‘Somers Town’ this weekend, Movies.ie recommends you check out the follow films to prepare you for the latest Shane Meadow pic. Shane Meadows has over the last few years finally gained the respect he deserves as one of the most vital and talented British filmmakers working today. His films share the urban landscape of back streets, council estates and underpasses but delve beyond the stark settings to find the romance and humour in the lives of the people who live there. His most successful films have centred on the trials of growing up and trying to find a place to call home. His latest release Somer’s Town continues this theme. It tells the story of runaway Tomo who strikes up a friendship with a Polish boy Marek over the course of a summer in London. What could have been a clichéd “coming of age” saga is, in the hands of Meadows, truthful, touching and funny. If this sounds appealing, here are some films which share a kindred spirit with Somer’s Town. A ROOM FOR ROMEO BRASS (1999) One of Meadows’ earlier efforts, this film is by turns surreal, touching and terrifying and as in This Is England, there is the constant threat of violence tempering what could otherwise have been a sugary effort. Two twelve year olds, Romeo and Gavin find their friendship breaking down when Morell (Meadows favourite Paddy Considine) enters their lives. Considine is typically brilliant as are the younger members of the cast, this is a must see. THIS IS ENGLAND (2006) The film that brought Meadows to a wider audience, This Is England sought to reclaim the skinhead culture of 1980’s Britain from the spectre of racism. It shows the original skinhead movement as multicultural and positive, an idea which became polluted by a racist element – represented here by the terrifying Combo (Stephen Graham). It is wonderfully evocative of 1980’s Britain and it’s youth culture boasting an appropriately brilliant soundtrack of classic reggae. Thomas Turgoose of Somer’s Town makes his screen debut and puts in an amazingly naturalistic performance as the troubled Shaun. KES (1969) Ken Loach’s classic is a definite forerunner and kindred spirit to the work of Shane Meadows. It shares the theme of a lonely young boy finding a friend and a sense of joy in life to help him through his fundamentally unhappy existence. In this case, the friend Billy finds is a kestrel which he tames and trains. Again, this film revolves around the remarkable performance of its young actor (David Bradley). This is one of the best ever British films, if you haven’t seen it seek it out, just make sure you have the tissues at the ready – it is Ken Loach after all! RATCATCHER (1999) This film brings us to a Glaswegian council estate in the summer of 1973. The usually squalid settings have been made all the worse by striking dustmen; bin bags stack up in the streets and rats run rampant. Within this setting, a young boy, James experiences a tragedy and begins a tentative friendship with the naïve and animal loving Kenny. Directed by the hugely talented Lynne Ramsay, this film looks beautiful, as Ramsay contrasts the stark council estates with the surrounding countryside, which she films in an ethereal almost dreamlike manner. SON OF RAMBOW (2007) This may be a more light-hearted and less troubling version of growing up than is represented in the work of Shane Meadows but it shares a great deal in terms of a nostalgia for the joys of childhood and in finding friendship despite being a social misfit. Will is a sheltered child from a religious family becomes enamoured by the wild and supposedly worldly Lee Carter. Together they form an unlikely partnership and set out to make their own version of Rambo. This is a wonderful film with central performances from the two leads that are accomplished without being precocious. This is a kids film to touch even the most cynical of adults. Somers Town is in Irish cinemas from August 22nd.