Image Credit: Rocks (2019)
'Rocks' is a collaborative labour of love from director Sarah Gavron, writers Theresa Ikoko and Claire Wilson, and an extraordinary cast of young girls, all of whom contributed improvisations to this correctly acclaimed, slice-of-life gem.
With an eye and ear for the lingo, mannerisms, and behaviour of a close-knit circle of multi-cultural inner-city London girls, this warm, compassionate, humane film invites the viewer into the life of the brave, resilient, but headstrong Shola “Rocks” Omotoso (Bukky Bakray), who got her nickname defending her best friend from bullies.
Her tower block life is unsettled when her struggling mother runs out on her and her younger brother Emmanuel (the utterly charming D’angelou Osei Kissiedu).
Rocks misguidedly tries to look after Emmanuel, taking on immense responsibility and pressure.
Evading the suspicions of neighbours, teachers, and social services, as well as pridefully shutting out her closest friends, Rocks misguidedly tries to look after Emmanuel, taking on immense responsibility and pressure. Tragicomic results ensue.
This has the social realist air of a Ken Loach film, without the political axe-grinding. It also reminded me of recent films such as 'The Florida Project' and even 'Cuties', though mercifully bereft of the latter film’s controversy baiting imagery.
'Rocks' is a far more positive experience, and one that ultimately celebrates the power of community and friendship, even those friends who bravely intervene, risking the relationship, when Rocks becomes her own worst enemy.
Featuring superb performances from its young cast.
Featuring superb performances from its young cast, vivid location work, and fine direction, 'Rocks' is a nuanced, understated, quietly moving piece of work, with heart and heartbreak to spare, but also bittersweet joy.
It’s also one of the best films I’ve seen this year, so if it’s playing at a cinema near you, do go and see it.