Shola (Bukky Bakray), or Rocks, as she's known, lives in a London council flat with her younger brother Emmanuel (D'angelou Osei Kissiedu) and their single mother. Mum is busy and stressed, leaving Rocks to spend all her free time with school friends. One day, she comes home to find her life radically altered: she is suddenly on her own with a child to take care of. Gavron could easily have steered Rocks into miserabilism, but delivers instead a surprising portrait of resilience. Rocks is mercurial, impulsive, and deeply sensitive - not unusual for her age, she sometimes makes desperately poor decisions, for what look to her like good reasons. When her closest friend Sumaya (Kosar Ali) tries to help, Rocks doesn't know how to accept it, blinded by Sumaya's two-parent household and relative comfort.
A social drama that in true Loachian fashion depicts a rundown Britain and a sense of no hope for the future of today's youth. In that sense it's a dour film, riddled with sadness but tinged with humour. Filmed with mostly amateur and non actors it has that realism that attracts critics but I'm not convinced it's a film that really gets to the heart of its themes. Bafta winning Bukky Bakery plays a British born Nigerian girl nicknamed Rocks and the film follows her daily life at school with her group of friends, her talent with cosmetics but trying to cope with her mentally ill mother whilst taking care of her little brother, Emmanuel (D'angelou Osei Kissiedu). When their mother disappears leaving them to fend for themselves Rocks is forced to take to the streets with her brother to avoid Social Services. This threatens her stability with friends and her future. I always had a sense that I've seen this narrative repeated many times before not least in Loach's seminal classic Kes (1969), and to that end it didn't offer anything new to say on the implications of the multi-racial complexities of modern Britain.
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