I’ve never heard of a film being made like Rocks. Director Sarah Gavron and writers Theresa Ikoko and Claire Wilson have talked about how the film is a fully collaborative project, that began with them going into community groups and workshops to find a group of young women, who would go on to star in the film, and built the film with and around them.
The fact that this was such a collaborative process is probably why Rocks really stands out as such an authentic and realistic piece of art. This is so true the voices of these young women who mostly come from poorer parts of London, not just in the dialogue and the way they communicate, but in the story that is told. The central character of the film, known as Rocks, is left to fend for herself and her younger brother after her mother abandons them. She tries to keep up their normal way of life, and seeks to avoid involving social services.
Bukky Bakray is the young woman who plays Rocks, and she gives a phenomenal performance, especially from someone who has never acted before. Her performance is incredibly natural, particularly in her interactions with her friends and younger brother (played by D’angelou Osei Kissiedu) in the film. It is clear that the collaborative process allowed a genuine bond to form between all these young actors, and that once again helped the authentic nature of the film. And given that none of them had acted before all their performances are really strong, but it is hard to look past Bakray’s superb leading one.
Rocks is really wonderful British film, made by most women to shine a light on women’s stories, and told in such a real way.