Socialist Worker

Rocks—a brilliant, realistic film about young lives in London film

by Nadia Sayed
Issue No. 2727

A story of resilience and friendship

A story of racism, resilience and friendship


Rocks is a teenager struggling to take care of herself and her younger brother Emmanuel after her mum leaves them suddenly. 

The first thing that struck me as soon as the film started was how well it conveys what inner city working class life is like. 

The whole way through it I was thinking, “This is what I remember school being like”. 

In particular, Rocks’s group of friends are all from different backgrounds, and that’s what growing up in east London really does feel like.

And it captures the hardship—but also the fun and enjoyment you have during your school years—really well. 

Rocks goes to great lengths to avoid telling adults—and in particular social services—about her situation. She tries to protect herself and her brother from the authorities and to get on as normally as possible.

One part that’s maybe missing is a deeper exploration of why young black people distrust the authorities.

Rocks’s home life, like that of so many others, is the result of poverty and mental health pressures. It’s great that the film captures that existence and her resilience.

It’s a really good film. I’ve read that the project came out of teenagers’ participation in workshops and youth clubs. You can really tell—the way characters interact with each other is incredibly realistic and natural. 

And the young actors shine in the scenes and moments between each other—the way they tease each other and the fun they have in the classroom. 

I really loved Rocks—it’s a great film showing racism, resilience and friendship experienced by many teenagers in inner city London


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