The Pebble and the Boy (2021) – Film Review
Director: Chris Green
Cast: Patrick McNamee, Sacha Parkinson, Max Boast
By @Roger Crow
There’s a rule of thumb with cinema: no film that starts with grainy home movie footage turns out to be a laugh-a-minute farce.
Such is the cast with this harmless Brit flick. It’s a study of grief, a love letter to Mod culture, and a road trip in one. Now any movie which features loads of Paul Weller tracks is all right by me, but there needed to be more to it than there is.
It centres on John, a grieving 19 year old who embarks on a journey from Manchester to Brighton, the spiritual home of the Mods, to scatter his late father’s ashes.
It starts off on a sombre note, and for the most part features John coping with his loss, grieving, travelling, coming to terms with the scooter, and eventually making it to Brighton. It’s well shot and edited, and the mostly young cast do an okay job with the script, but there’s something missing.
Losing a parent is one of the most devastating events in your life, but it’s not necessarily a great subject for a road movie, even if there is a good soundtrack. See the film Elizabethtown for further proof, which may feature an A-list cast and a superb last 10 minutes, but for the most part is a melancholy misfire.
At times it’s also reminiscent of Silver Dream Racer, a far darker study of grief and motorbikes, which was far bolder in its execution.
Patrick McNamee is an okay lead, and Corrie veteran Sacha Parkinson is a natural screen presence. There’s also good support from Patsy Kensit and other familiar faces, while Max Boast is fun in support, even if his reaction to his mate sleeping in a boat is far too OTT.
If you too are a grieving Mod it will touch a major chord, obviously, but some movies need to be Harleys rather than Lambrettas if they’re going to take an audience on a journey for 100 minutes. Yes, both vehicles will get you to the finish line, but for some parental grief is a full throttle, gas-guzzling shock to the system rather than a puttering ride.
I wanted this to be as emotionally epic as Jim Steinman’s Bat Out of Hell, even with the appropriate form of transport for the subject matter, but it was not to be.
This is a half-hour drama at best that needed to be far more than just a love letter to Paul Weller and a lost loved one. Good effort from all though, and I have a feeling Chris Green’s future work will be more on the money.