Near the end of this short film, Tomo, a little shit of a teenage boy, stands on the roof of a low-rise apartment complex in London, wearing a dress, an apron and plastic cleaning gloves. It’s funny. It’s also the first time in the movie that the kid is actually likable. This is surprising, because for the last hour — the movie’s only 70 minutes long — Tomo has been annoying, self-centered and hurtful. A total wanker. And yet now you like him.
That’s just one of the surprises in a surprising movie. On its face, it’s a coming-of-age buddy film, which sounds really lame. In reality, it’s a very funny and artful tale about two teenagers who meet by the longest of chances to become unlikely friends.
Tomo is a runaway from Nottingham. He’s come to the big city and soon finds himself — despite his conceitedly punk-ish exterior — out of his league, mugged and bloody. Marek, the other main character, is a Polish immigrant who lives with his single father. Marek is quiet and artistic, and at first, he bristles at Tomo’s insufferable, outgoing nature. But the two find a common bond in Maria, a “very fit” waitress whom Marek photographed before Tomo’s arrival. They also both enjoy the company of Graham, an odd neighbor of Marek’s who has a storage unit full of bric-a-brac for sale and who is always soliciting the boys’ cheap labor.
The film, directed by Shane Meadows, is being distributed by Film Movement, which is something like the altruistic art house version of Netflix. With its subscription service (for a measly $11 per month), Film Movement is attempting to introduce wider audiences to award-winning foreign and independent movies. Once a month, a movie comes, you watch it and you keep it. Each disc has a full-length feature and a short film. Somers Town is Year 7, Film 8. Before it came The Drummer, a drama about a Hong Kong bad boy who finds peace with Zen drummers in Taiwan. Following it was Gigante, a Uruguayan comedy about a supermarket security guard and the store’s janitor.