Rocks (film), the 2019 British Drama, talks about a kind of community that we often do not associate with the first world countries. But they do exist. It is almost refreshing to see a narrative that operates in such close quarters with reality. It is a coming of age story of a girl named Shola Omotosho a.k.a Rocks. The performers are not trained actors and director Sarah Gavron wanted it to be like that. In an interview, she says that she wanted to create organic moments. So she does put these teenage girls together and what comes out is pure bliss.
Theresa Ikoko and Claire Wilson have written the screenplay. Bukky Bakray plays the protagonist Rocks. The film premiered at the 2019 Toronto film festival.
Life is just fine in East London. For Rocks, resources might be limited but she is surrounded by beautiful people. She lives with her mother and her little brother. In school too she has very intuitive friends who look out for each other. One fine morning when Rocks comes back from school she finds a letter from her mom. Unable to cope with the financial pressures and other personal reasons she had left them. Rocks is a bit laid back in the starting because she had often done that in the past. Rocks believe that she would come back in a couple of days. But she doesn’t. It dawns upon her that she is not going to come back this time. She has barely any money left and a child to take care of. One day she sees people from the social security standing in front of her house and she realizes that might not be safe to go back. She stays the night at her friend’s Sumaya (Kosar Ali). But things get tougher and Rocks makes some rash choices that lead her entangled in this mess.
The beauty of this film is that as it progresses we don’t necessarily move forward but we move inward. We get to know about those little nuances that make a person what they are. We get to know Rocks and Sumaya. We get to know about the bonds that the friends share. We get to know how protective Rocks is about her little brother. We get to see the other side of the world with Roshe (Shaneigha Monik Greyson). The film is like these little character studies combined together to make a diverse concoction.
I felt that the film had a “Capernaum” kind of piercing effect. Like that Labenese masterpiece directed by Nadine Labaki, this film too doesn’t feel like it is showcasing an orchestrated world. The world feels real. The world has this inherent quality of being chaotic and messy like what we see in the films made by Ken Loach. The system seems botched up just like the 2016 path-breaking film “I, Daniel Blake” and the 2019 heart-wrenching drama “Sorry we missed you”.
Rocks (film) is a celebration of collaboration. The team together has created this extremely real and nuanced world. The cinematography by Helene Louvart is exceptional. The shaky camera movements add to the rawness of the emotions at the display. Creating this kind of world on screen is not easy. These moments and emotions that hold an almost life-like essence are hard to be choreographed. No matter how much you try you cannot copy them. The more real it gets the harder it becomes to portray on screen. It is not about that tear falling from your eye. It is about that build-up that chokes your throat and takes you to a place of discomfort.
It is important to understand the psyche of Humans and most importantly one should know how to take out the desired result from their actors when they are not even trained actors. So full credit to Sarah Gavron for mirroring reality and its most chaotic elements.
Watch Rocks (film) to witness a coming-of-age story devoid of its usual cliched elements. It’s refreshing, it’s authentic and it is weaved out of those beautiful moments that we somehow manage to hold onto even in adversity.
Rocks (film) is streaming on Netflix.
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