At first glance, Somers Town seems gritty and realistic, what with its handheld, black-and-white shots of working-class London and a cast dominated by actors who wouldn't look glamorous even after a twelve-hour session with Paul Mitchell. But the film is shot through with a deep streak of whimsy that infuses the grim locale with unmistakable charm. For instance, there's no good reason for homeless teen Tomo (Thomas Turgoose) to spend much of the movie in plaid pants and a gaudy frock worn as a substitute shirt. Since he stole a laundry bag containing them, he could simply nick another — yet his decision to stick with this garb is even funnier than the sight of him wearing it in the first place. Director Shane Meadows, working from Paul Fraser's aggressively casual script, sketches the friendship between Tomo and Polish immigrant Marek (Piotr Jagiello) — as well as their shared desire for idealized waitress Maria (Elisa Lasowski) — using a subtly wry tone, and if the results are undeniably slight, they're also consistently enchanting.
Somers Town opens August 14 and unspools at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at Starz FilmCenter, in the Tivoli; tickets are $6 to $9.50. Learn about future screenings and get more information at 303-595-3456 or www.denverfilm.org.