Rocks, 15, lives in London with his mother and baby brother. When their mother disappears overnight, a new life is organized with the help of her best friends. Rocks will have to do everything to escape social services.
Sarah Gavron has forged an image through her previous feature films, starting with “Rendez-vous à Brick Lane” which pitted women against their own culture and forbidden happiness, then in “The Suffragettes”, which proudly defended the civil rights of women in twentieth century London. Now, the British director returns to the chronicles of adolescence, where her heroines are losing their bearings and one of them will have to assume the responsibilities. But in addition to this specificity, the film punctuates learning and associates it with an indecent rhythm, no longer even letting the child enjoy his youth and his carefree attitude. It is projected more quickly into an adult universe, because the children more quickly apprehend the hostile environment which surrounds them, but with the necessary hint of generosity and bravery, in order to illuminate this journey which is both authentic and characteristic of ‘a standardized British company. Far from being feminist, this social drama surveys the setbacks of a Shola (Bukky Bakray) balanced between several conflicts, ranging from claimed motherhood to a more collective, childish but sincere approach. Alone to take care of her younger brother Emmanuel (D’angelou Osei Kissiedu), she ends up taking him under her wing in a little imaginary game, but the magic has its limits, because the sister’s combativeness will take on a sometimes daring form. , sometimes corrosive, hence its nickname “Rocks”. She is also keen to postpone the deadline for this family dysfunction, by opting for discretion to the detriment of loyalty, because she has no shortage of comrades to come to her aid or to simply accompany her in her torments. Between cultural and social diversity, the city which abandons its population to their fate and their problems and appears cruelly passive in the face of the uncertainty of a life of wandering and survival. The place of girls also allows a visibility which is rare on the screens. Rocks, known for her make-up ends up being pushed back from those in dire need, to hide a vulnerability. That’s why, friends like Sumaya (Kosar Ali) embody reason, despite a culture that confines it. In contrast, Roshé (Shaneigha-Monik Greyson) exemplifies all the ease of a well-off childhood and one that feeds his lack of wisdom through excess, nothing bitter, but understandable. As for Agnes (Ruby Stokes), she symbolizes the British stock, too confident in its institutions. And it will be enough to trust the first moments of the film, which evokes solidarity and friendship as the best escape. This is what we will accurately demonstrate in an ending which underlines the liveliness and independence of young girls who do not need to scream in despair, she laughs with rage and they move forward with, at a pace of song or expressive dance. While some may see it as Ken Loach, or a certain “Mustang” by Deniz Gamze Ergüven, the approach nevertheless seems less brutal and resonates more with a taste for life that allows one to flirt with the border of lyricism. School learning, according to Gavron, is then articulated like his discourse which calls for relativizing the criteria of selection, standard and way of life, which come up too early in adolescent girls and which can destroy them just by thinking strongly about it. “Rocks” thus poses its heroine on the overwhelming stele of motherhood, without sacrificing it in the hands of social services. It is the closeness to the universe of middle and high school students that the film finds the right tone, the right words and the right intentions, in order to emotionally exploit with ardor and melancholy.