There are some movies and TV series that feel like comfort food - like having mac and cheese or curling up at home on a rainy day with a few scoops of ice cream. It feels like home. I felt this nostalgic-buzz whilst watching Rocks. Though these artistic pieces of cinematography are scripts brought to life, the themes are relatable to those on the other side of the screen watching.
Rocks, co-written by Theresa Ikoko and Claire Wilson, is titled after the protagonist of the film. The story follows a young secondary school girl who navigates a challenging period of her life with the absence of her mother - their home's sole parent - leaving Rocks and her younger brother to fend for themselves. Rocks shares the screen with her school friends who attempt to support her through the ordeal, portraying a sisterhood that is truly endearing. Without dropping any huge spoilers, the film compels you into empathy with scenes that often shift between being tear-jerking and heart-warming.
Photo credit: IMDb
It is refreshing to see an urban London-based film with young talented women executing their artistic craft. The girl group reflects what school looked like for many of us growing up in ethnically diverse areas. School brought us together despite our differences. Directed by Sarah Gavron, the setting depicts candid parts of London-living with scenes that feel real. From girl group antics to the afrobeat dance class, it feels like home.
Rocks journeys through the rugged parts of life that reflect some of the circumstances we see in society today - struggling and unaided families, disrupted education, undue responsibility from a young age. Throughout the film, I asked myself “why can’t children just be children?” free from burdens that are heavy for their shoulders.
In the film we see Rocks make challenging and sometimes questionable decisions in response to life under pressure. I have had a few conversations about our perception of young people and the day-to-day decisions they face. In one of these sporadic chats about society, I asked "is it really their fault?" Is it their fault if they do not know how to excel in a better way? Is it their fault if they do not feel embraced? Is it their fault if the root cause is not investigated?
I guess we live in a complex world and our effort in actively loving those around us through their circumstance becomes necessary. Rocks shows, for example, how friendships and other households can fill gaps when there is a need. We have talked about heroes a lot this year. Maybe among these we could consider good foster carers who give children a home where their parents cannot offer this. It may not always be the rosiest of experiences but it seems to be a viable option.
Rocks is far from a fairy-tale story. Rather, it shows the hidden beauty in narratives that reach contentment despite not arriving at a perfect and dreamy picture. It's a film I would watch again for the stripped back and raw cinematography, and the insight it gives in to some of the hardships people go through - a reminder that our compassion is valuable in society.
Rocks is currently available on Netflix as part of a collection of new releases for Black History Month.