It might stop and start like a Lambretta scooter, but once it gets going, The Pebble and the Boy proves to be a road trip movie with plenty of humour and heart.
From the producers of Hidden Agenda and directed by Chris Green, The Pebble and the Boy is a comedy drama in which 19 year old John from Manchester embarks on a journey to Brighton, the home of the Mods, on an old Lambretta scooter to scatter his father’s ashes. John (Patrick McNamee) is joined by Nicki (Sacha Parkinson) on a journey that is both moving and music-filled.
The Jam, Paul Weller and The Style Council are some of the acts that feature on the soundtrack, making for a viewing experience that is full of excitement and fun with emotional moments mixed in. The Pebble and the Boy houses pockets of drama with added, and not necessarily expected, funny moments. Nicki’s exchanges with her dad early on in the first made me laugh and reminded me of being a spiky, sarcastic teenager) The camera work by Max Williams is simple but effective as it captures characters’ emotions and the sprawling, Mod-filled landscapes in brilliant fashion. Additionally, the stylish wardrobe adds to the depiction of Mods, harking back to the likes of Quadrophenia, as everyone from the main characters to minor characters is dressed in Pretty Green, Gallagher esque parkas and an array of eccentric outfits which communicate a movement not everyone will be familiar with in a way that is accessible.
The cast features a wide range of Northern actors, from Patsy Kensit (who plays Sonia, a family friend of Nicki’s) to Ricci Harnett (who plays Ronnie, Sonia’s husband) and even a cameo from Mani of The Stone Roses. McNamee and Parkinson might not look like jigsaw pieces that fit the same puzzle but they succeed as awkward John and extroverted Nicki and Max Boast delivers a standout performance as eccentric Logan, Sonia and Ronnie’s son; he provides comedy relief to offset the more tense, dramatic moments.
The film centres around John grieving the father he doesn’t know much about but the state of grieving is never fully expanded upon. The script and acting could have focused on the grieving process a bit more as the only explicit showing of this was the funeral scene at the start of the film and, whilst he does scatter his father’s ashes, the moment that could have been a bit more sentimental and emotional is instead a quick moment giving way to the road-trip aspect of the film. John uncovers various snippets about his father but again these are not fully expanded upon, perhaps just to ensure that the viewer has the same understanding of John’s father as he does.
Though Nicki is a massive presence in the film, not much detail is given regarding her character aside from her being recently jobless. Similarly, John could have been developed a bit more as they relied a bit too heavily on his despair and fatigue, taking away from the fun road trip aspect of the film. Whilst they might not be developed as individual characters, there is no denying the chemistry between McNamee and Parkinson, wasting no time bonding from the offset as they share a joint early on in the film and treat the viewer to spiky banter throughout. The two excel together and prove to be characters you root for.
The title alone (also the title of a song by Paul Weller) provides an insight into the fact that the film is an exploration of the Mod culture and movement. As the viewer watches the film though, they come to realise that the film is so much more. It is about music, mod culture and adventure. It is also about grief, friendship and finding your community.
Many of us won’t have the same affinity with Mod culture as these characters do but, over the last few years, we have all experienced grief and perhaps felt a greater need for community. A combination of spiky humour and a stellar soundtrack makes The Pebble and The Boy an entertaining watch, despite its less than easy subject matter.
Words by Jen Rose
The Pebble And The Boy is now in UK cinemas.
Support The Indiependent
We’re trying to raise £200 a month to help cover our operational costs. This includes our ‘Writer of the Month’ awards, where we recognise the amazing work produced by our contributor team. If you’ve enjoyed reading our site, we’d really appreciate it if you could donate to The Indiependent. Whether you can give £1 or £10, you’d be making a huge difference to our small team.