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18th November 2021

KINOFILM 2021: The Pebble and the Boy

Mila Filipova writes a review for Kinofest’s The Pebble and the Boy, exploring the director’s love of music and the 80s decade.
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KINOFILM 2021: The Pebble and the Boy
Photo: ceridwen @ geograph.org.uk

Written by Mila Filipova.

The Pebble and the Boy screened in over 170 cinemas and has had a constantly growing fanbase since its premiere this summer. 

The film tells the story of John, his father’s ashes, and Nicky, the daughter of his father’s best friend. John wants to pay one last tribute to his dad by taking a 1980s style ‘Mod Pilgrimage’. He aims to drive his father’s personalised Lambretta scooter all the way to Brighton and spread his ashes in the sea. Director Chris Green was a mod himself. He wanted to make a movie that brought back the nostalgia for this era, 42 years after the iconic Quadrophenia

Staying faithful to the classic road trip genre, The Pebble and the Boy depicts a realistic trip where its characters face unexpected difficulties, finding sensitive relationships along the way. While the plot is adequate and the twist is unexpected, Nicky and John’s romance is a predictable and boring detail. Whilst it is not the focus of the film, the relationship between the two protagonists would have been better if they’d remained as friends rather than contrived into something inauthentic to please a certain audience. It is a major shortcoming that normalises the otherwise bubbly and unconventional personality of Nicky and renders the film predictable. 

What is fantastic about the film is its detailed grasp of Britain’s mod culture and its residual legacy from the 80s. However, a genuinely creative and touching plot means that anyone can watch this, whether you have any attachment to the era or not. Chris Green says that “it was originally intended for an audience of mods that would remember their youth”. But due to its touching relationships and funny script its audience eventually grew much bigger than expected.

The music is mostly from The Jam and Paul Weller, familiar to most 50- to 60-year-old British men but regrettably unfamiliar to the rest. With only 30 days, a small budget to shoot, and having to fork out £5,000 to film on Brighton pier, it is impressive to see such rich content being produced. Hilariously, the film’s crew received four scooters as gifts for the shoot. However, the expense of the film meant one had to be sold to maintain funding for production.

The Pebble and the Boy focuses on the mod-revival genre. This contrasts with the fact that John is not a mod and is totally oblivious to his father’s culture before reading the books and listening to the music he left behind. Lost in a new world of culture, following John’s discovery of his father is both relatable and lovable.

Music culture is clearly a love of Green’s. He prepares for his next film set in the 90s which will see the lovable conflicts between a Blur fan and an Oasis fan. The director wants to go back in time and experience these careless years again through his movies, a sentiment that has really been captured in The Pebble and the Boy.

The cherry on top of the cake is his insistence on wearing his dad’s oversized old mod jacket for the full movie. Stylish and heartwarming.

4/5.


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