Complete A-Z list



Stars: Bukky Bakray, Kosar Ali

Director: Sarah Gavron

Some viewers may need their subtitle switch on for this look at London life on the edge of poverty, which is mostly miserable fare with a few brighter shafts and lively performances from an untested young cast.

The up-and-coming Bakray plays Shola, known as Rocks (it's never explained), a big, overweight teenager of Nigerian heritage, living with a younger brother and stressed-out mother in a high-rise flat. But she's a bright spark at school, until, for the rather tenuous reason that she 'wants to clear her mind', the mother leaves home.

Needless to say, social services are soon after Rocks, who flees the premises and lodges with best friend Sumaya (a striking performance from Ali) and others, after losing the money her mother had left and stealing cash from elsewhere to make ends meet.

Director Gavron's cameras are unrelenting in her close-up look of what are, of course, real-life problems, the pressure from which soon sees Rocks' initially sunny disposition crumble.

Watching the sad drama unfold, however, is an enervating process that wears the viewer down, even as it does the same to its leading character. At least the finale provides a slightly more refreshing moment, as well as paving the way for a sequel. Keep those handkerchieves handy.

David Quinlan

UK 2019. UK Distributor: Altitude. Colour (uncredited).
93 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 23 Jan 2021