Wrong about Somers Town

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I was disappointed with Alasdair Smith's review of Shane Meadows' film Somers Town (Culture, Socialist Review, September 2008).

The only part I agreed with was his comment that Meadows "creates a warm and sympathetic picture of life for immigrants".

The rest just seems unnecessarily bitter, as though Alasdair was trying too hard to see something that was never meant to be there in the first place. It seems obvious to me that the film's "claustrophobic cinematography", as Alasdair puts it, reflects the isolation and loneliness that many recent immigrant workers from abroad and migrant workers from other parts of Britain feel upon arriving in London.

Knowing very few people - or none at all - means that future directions, work, relationships and dreams can be shaped by the often strange chance encounters that Meadows portrays. Alasdair believes the characters are "barely credible", but I can vouch that all of them exist in Deptford High Street, at least!

The life of marginalised migrants (which Tomo is as much as Marek) in this city can, at moments between the long hours working in precarious jobs for the minimum wage or less, have a simplicity that I think Meadows captures quite well, over and above his authentic reflection of adolescence.

The Colombian migrant workers I saw the film with were touched by its sensitivity, recognising a part of their own experience in the virtual solitude of young people arriving as strangers to a huge city.

They interpreted the film's ending as I did, as a dream in which they, and Marek and Tomo, escape the loneliness and alienation of this solitude, and in which, however improbable or fleeting the moment, life seems bright and full of colour.

Paul Haste
London