Rocks review – high school drama is an energetic five-star triumph

The East London-set drama boasts wit, a dynamic cast and a piercing sadness as it follows a Nigerian British girl and her younger brother

With its energy, its creativity, its raw passion and its fun, this film and its newcomer cast are the best thing I’ve seen at this year’s Toronto film festival.

It’s a social-realist adventure written by Theresa Ikoko and Claire Wilson and directed by Sarah Gavron about a multi-ethnic community in East London – in the spirit of Ken Loach’s Kes or Céline Sciamma’s Bande Des Filles. It’s tough, but it’s the opposite of miserablist. At the story’s centre is a group of year 11 girls and the star is Bukky Bakray, playing a Nigerian British girl nicknamed “Rocks”, who is maybe no great academic high-flier but really talented at cosmetics. Her dad is dead and she lives with her troubled mum, who has had, as a social worker delicately puts it, issues managing her medication.

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