Eurostar's 'Somers Town' cinema venture escapes drubbing

LONDON - Eurostar's funding of Shane Meadows' new film 'Somers Town' has largely avoided a drubbing by critics ahead of its opening today, with several reviewers giving it three or four stars.

The film is shot in black and white and mainly set around the St Pancras area, the location of Eurostar's London terminus. It was produced by Mother on behalf of Eurostar.

It picked up the top award at the Edinburgh International Film Festival earlier this year and is now going on general release, to a mixed reception from the critics.

The biggest supporter of the film is Sukhdev Sandhu in the Daily Telegraph, who says that any viewers worried about the Eurostar branding need not be concerned. "Any reservations will surely disappear within minutes. Somers Town... is a work of integrity, a touching piece of dream-cinema," he writes.

Independent reviewer Anthony Quinn has a less than favourable reaction to the film, but writes: "It's not the film's origins as a commercial that grate; indeed aside from shots of the St Pancras spire and some on-train filming, Eurostar doesn't appear much. What scuppers it is a lack of drama."

The Times overlooks the Eurostar element entirely in its review, which praises the cast and the comic touch but ultimately finds the film to be "a hollow pleasure".

The Guardian agrees about the excellent cast and comic touch, with reviewer Peter Bradshaw saying of the sponsorship: "Some may sniff at Shane Meadows' decision to take the Eurostar shilling. But so what? Meadows appears to have accepted their help in the same cheerful spirit that novelist Fay Weldon took sponsorship from the jeweller Bulgari.

"There's plenty of pro-Eurostar stuff here, and Meadows obviously doesn't feel any great need to put balancing material in the screenplay about the advantages of an easyJet flight to Charles De Gaulle. The plugs are noticeable, but they never get in the way."

However, The Sun describes Eurostar's involvement as "a worrying development for cinema" but gives the film three out of five -- even though it describes the plot as being slim. Freesheet Metro opts for a four-star rating but warns viewers: "It runs at only 71 minutes and was funded by Eurostar but it's only the ad-worthy ending that will leave you feeling short-changed."