Love on the pier: ‘The Pebble and the Boy’ (2021)

❉ A coming-of-age tale, road trip and celebration of mod culture rolled into one.

“With a soundtrack that includes 1980s mod revival tracks by Secret Affair and the Chords as well as a number of Weller songs the film is a celebration of older mod culture but tries to put this in the context of the modern world. It is not just nostalgia.”

Nicki (Sacha Parkinson) and John (Patrick McNamee).

Released this week in time for the August bank holiday The Pebble and the Boy is a touching new film from the writer/director Chris Green and the producer Michael Knowles. A coming-of-age tale, road trip and celebration of mod culture rolled into one the film charts the tale of a 17-year-old boy and his scooter journey from Manchester to Brighton.

The Pebble and the Boy is named after a Paul Weller song and opens with the funeral of Phil Parker (a fiftysomething Mod who has died after being knocked off his scooter) and a marvellous procession of 100 or 200 mods on scooters and bikes. His son John (Patrick McNamee, Our Girl and Inspector George Gently) inherits his scooter, his house and his ashes. Despite the protestations of his mother Dawn (played by Christine Tremarco – Priest, Little Boy Blue) John decides to take his late father’s ashes on a pilgrimage to Brighton. Along the way he joins forces with Nicki played by Sacha Parkinson (Coronation Street, My Mad Fat Diary) and the pair go on a road trip along the country lanes of England.

John (Patrick McNamee) and his mother Sonia (Patsy Kensit).

The film has some brilliant character and cameo parts. Patsy Kensit (Absolute Beginners, Emmerdale) Ricci Harnett (EastEnders) and Max Boast (Sex Education) play a slightly deranged family who become part of John and Phil’s story in a part of the narrative that has a twist later on in the film.  Stuart Wolfenden (Corrie and Dead Man’s Shoes) plays Nicki’s father and Phil’s friend and there are later appearances by TV veterans Brian Croucher and Jesse Birdsall. There is even an appearance by Stone Roses bassist (and ex scooter boy) Mani.

Ali (Jesse Birdsall) spills the beans.

With a soundtrack that includes 1980s mod revival tracks by Secret Affair and the Chords as well as a number of Weller songs the film is a celebration of older mod culture but tries to put this in the context of the modern world. It is not just nostalgia. There are great scenes such as John (who is not really a full-on Mod convert) listening to his father’s Jam records whilst reading a Paulo Hewitt book, a (friendly) encounter with a group of leather jacketed bikers and a humorous exchange down Quadrophenia Alley.

Nicki (Sacha Parkinson) and John (Patrick McNamee).

The Pebble and the Boy looks as if it was great fun to make and has a couple of twist and turns in the narrative along the way. The awkward John doesn’t really wear his new mod identity comfortably and Nikki is the more confident of the two main characters. She’s funny and drives John on to get to his Brighton destination.

The film is also clearly in the tradition of Shane Meadows’s This is England and Kevin Sampson’s Awaydays in being about coming of age as part of an inherited subculture. The mod meet-ups in Manchester and Brighton look great and it was obviously a labour of love to film for Chris Green who grew up as part of this early ‘80s  mod culture. An enjoyable film for the August bank holiday.


❉’The Pebble And The Boy’ will be released in cinemas nationwide from Friday August 27, and available On Demand later in the year. Director: Chris Green. Cast: Patrick McNamee, Sacha Parkinson, Max Boast, Patsy Kensit, Ricci Harnett & Jesse Birdsall. Rating: 15. Runtime: 101 minutes. Distributors: Lightbulb Film Distribution & Munro Film, in collaboration with North of Watford Films.

James Collingwood is based in West Yorkshire and has been writing for a number of years. He currently also writes for the Bradford Review magazine for which he has conducted more than 30 interviews and has covered music, film and theatre.  His Twitter is @JamesCollingwo1

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