Young runaway Tomo leaves Nottingham and gets the train to London's King's Cross, before getting mugged and losing all his posessions. He falls in with Polish immigrant Marek, who has moved to England with his father - a builder at the new St. Pancras station who passes the evenings drinking with his mates. The two boys develop a friendship with french waitress Maris - all the time growing closer themselves.
Shane Meadows black and white follow-up to his superb Dead Man's Shoes and This Is England takes a simple premise and fleshes it out with outstanding performances and a lightness of touch. The film realistically portrays the birth of a friendship and the genuines camaradarie between two boys from different circumstances and the pains of growing up - and the acting is superb, particularly from Thomas Turgoose, who displays a baffling assuredness and confidence for a fifteen year-old.
Some controversy surrounds the film's production - as it was revelaed that it was produced by advertising agency Mother, on behalf of it's client, Eurostar. While the sponsors input is not overt in the Casino Royale sense ("Is that a Rolex? No, Omega"), it is present and it's most substantial effect is possibly the restriction of the film entering the kind of difficult territory that Dean Man's Shoes or This is England delved into. Without any real antagonism, the film doesn't move forward very far and settles instead for being a funny and charming portal of a new friendship, rather than explore the notions of immigration, homelssness and exploitation that it merely touches on.
Even though Tomo can't possibly have a passport the boys don't bunk the train, but manage to take a trip to Paris (only two hours away!) in search of their first love. This scene perhaps sums up the film's best aspects, with the earlier black & white photography serving as a counterpoint to this eventual Super 8 nostalgia that looks fondly upon coming of age. At 75 minutes this serves as more of an EP that a full-length, but it provides enough evidence that Meadows has a mature confidence behind the camera that shows yet more promise of great things to come.