A Daily Mail reading of Somers Town:
-London is full of yobs and foreigners: The only characters in Somers Town from London are the three (white) kids who mug Tommo, the café owner and Graham the spiv. And you can see this clearly in the way that Graham is holed up in his survivalist bunker of a flat. Everyone else is either from the regions or foreign.
-The foreigners are getting crafty. In the old days it was easy to spot an immigrant, they were a different colour. These days the Frenchies and the Poles which fill up Somers Town LOOK LIKE US. At least no Black or Asian people live in Somers Town.
-Isn’t social housing nice? Well not nice, but surprisingly quiet for Central London, when apparently only two flats are occupied. Though one by an immigrant.
-Kids are running wild, not just the yobbos but the care by-blow Tommo and the Pole Marek are on the streets all day causing mischief, stealing clothes and cross dressing. Shouldn’t they be in school?
-Look how easy it is to get on the Eurostar without a passport! No wonder we are over-run by immigrants over here, literally stealing our jobs.

Ok, as a Daily Mail reading that is slightly over-exaggerated. But as someone who knows Somers Town as an area, someone who works five minutes away from it, there was much of Shane Meadows advertilm for Eurostar that I really couldn’t stomach. And much of it which made no sense to me. Why would a camera happy kid with the run of the city spend all his time in London within two hundred yards of his flat? Why would Tommo run away to London, and not move more that two hundred yards from the station that spewed him out? And where are all the PEOPLE?

I know its a whimsical fantasy. But its a whimsical fantasy dressed up as kitchen sink or social realism (there is no aesthetic reason for the dishwater black and white cinematography). Having Tommo as a care runaway makes this character potentially realistic, but does that fit in with this coming of age comedy. Meadows’ Somers Town is whiter than Richard Curtis’ Notting Hill, but at least in Notting Hill we knew we were getting a rom-com, not a genre that suggests it will be dealing with reality. Meadows has a desaturated, ugly eye for a beautiful part of London. Which maybe makes sense for his characters, neither of whom really want to be there, but having Marek as a photographer and ignore the genuine majesty of half the sites ignored in this part of London – yet again within 200 yards of the site*. It is a London hating film, which has no reason to hate London. The city offers this characters the anonymity, opportunities and girl they desire, and yet its PARIS which is the fantasy. And the advert fantasy ending, with all its clearly made up whimsy in its Super 8 colour is yet again a boot ground in the face of London, and its byblow Somers Town. The only point of Somers Town, the only point of London is as a point of exit, YOU CAN GET OUT OF HERE, the film shouts, leave this hellish ghost-town and go to PARIS where its sunny, you can find the girl of your dreams and its in Colour. EUROSTAR COLOUR.

I went in thinking that the Eurostar aspect of it, know I am aware of it, would annoy. Oddly though it was almost my favourite bit, this unspoken negotiation between funding and filming – where I think Shane indulges his funders more than they expected (great employers!) But what degree of the aestetic choice come back to the funding. Where are the 60% non-white occupants of these Somers Town blocks, where is Chalton Street Market? And where did Meadows get another fucking acoustic guitar songwritten soundtrack from that was as ugly as the visuals. Meadows first film outside the Midlands? Nottingham, please take him back. I’ll buy him the train ticket.

*He gets the Pancras gasometers, but they were done better in Cronenberg’s Spider.