Film recommendation: Rocks

A life-affirming celebration of female friendship and the power of youthful energy set in the lesser-known parts of London.

When her mum unexpectedly leaves their home in London’s Hackney, sixteen-year-old Shola, aka ‘Rocks’, (Bukky Bakray) has to take on responsibility for her younger brother. She tries to keep below the radar of the authorities who might take him away while also wanting to live her teenage life to the full in the company of her group of girlfriends. The film is a genuine collaboration between its director, Sarah Gavron (Brick Lane, Suffragette), writing duo Theresa Ikoko and Claire Wilson, and its young cast who workshopped the storyline and dialogue through a long and detailed process.

The result is a film which is a profound joy – not shying away from all that is hard in the life of Rocks and her friends, but also recognising and celebrating the energy and support that comes from a band of school friends who will always look out for each other. Some of the girls’ choices are bad, or unkind, and the film doesn’t sugar coat anything. But it leaves the viewer with a sense of optimism from the resilience and contagious fizz of these young women, the tight band formed by young women from many different backgrounds and countries, and their ability to take on the world, even when the odds are stacked against them.

It’s a life-affirming celebration of female friendship and the resilience and bravery of young people, as well as a love letter to the sort of London life we don’t usually see on the big screen. Watch it in the cinema if you can, to laugh and cry and feel with this group of young women – or wait for it to come to Netflix.

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