'Rocks' is one of the unmissable films of 2020
FILM REVIEW: Rocks (12A)
VIEWED: Light Cinema, Wisbech
STARS: Bukky Bakray, Kosar Ali, D'angelou Osei Kissiedu, Shaneigha-Monik Greyson, Ruby Stokes, Tawheda Begum, Afi Okaidja, Anastasia Dymitrow.
RUNNING TIME: One hour, 33 minutes.
DIRECTOR: Sarah Gavron
I'm actually finding the trickle of films hitting the big screen at the moment a blessing in disguise, as, rather than missing the big hitters, I'm watching films I might not otherwise consider.
Rocks is a perfect example of this. Billed as "a film about the joy, resilience and spirit of girlhood", I could easily have dismissed it as not for me.
And, if I had, I would have missed one of the most uplifting, emotional, gritty and authentic movies I've seen in a very long time.
It follows teenager Rocks (Bakray). who fears that she and her little brother Emmanuel (Kissiedu) will be forced apart if the authorities find out they are living alone, after their mother leaves.
With the help of her friends, she evades detection and, with Emmanuel, navigates the most defining days of her life.
The film was uniquely crafted by a majority all-female creative team in collaboration with a group of British girls from differing cultural backgrounds including Nigerian, Somali, Polish, Bangladeshi, English and Congolese-Ghanaian.
The unknown actors emerged out of extensive workshops in which they shared experiences of friendship, their cultures, social media and school life as part of the film making process.
It all leads to an emotional rollercoaster, where you find yourself laughing one moment and wiping tears from your eyes minutes later.
Bakray is superb as the lead, Ali enigmatic and spellbinding as her best friend and Kissiedu puts in such a realistic performance as Rocks' young brother. All three should be stars of the future.
At times, it seems the viewer is watching a fly-on-the-wall drama rather than one of the unmissable movies of 2020.
It's the kind of film you want to tell others about. You need them to share in this emotional journey. It's terrific.
By Jeremy Ransome