The Pebble and the Boy
Written and Directed by Chris Green
Starring Patrick McNamee, Sacha Parkinson, Patsy Kensit
“All you punks and all you teds
National Front and Natty dreads
Mods, rockers, hippies and skinheads
Keep on fighting ’till you’re dead”
From “Do the Dog” by The Specials
The Mods were the stylishly dressed rebels of Britain in the 1960s. They rode motor scooters and had a love for soul music. Their style and attitude birthed a subculture of music that can be found in the works from groups such as The Who and Small Faces to The Jam and The Specials. Being a Mod, like being a Punk, was a state of mind and a lifestyle choice based on free thinking and rebellion against authority.
In the late 70’s, a Mod revival exploded from dark political and economic time in the UK.
Writer/director Chris Green’s sweet film “The Pebble and the Boy” brings the Mods to the modern generation through the tale of John (Patrick McNamee), a young man who has lost his father (a part of the late 70s Mod resurgence) to a bus crash.
The day following the funeral, his father’s Lambretta scooter is delivered from the police compound. After trying to sell it, he decides to keep the machine. In a quest to gain a deeper understanding of his father’s way of life, John decides to go on a pilgrimage from Manchester to Brighton, the place where the Mods began. It is there he will scatter his father’s ashes into the sea.
His traveling companion is the teenage daughter of his late father’s mate. Nicki (a kick ass excellent Sacha Parkinson channeling a young Susan George), joins him on her own scooter and together they get into a few altercations and have a couple of breakdowns (both personal and vehicular) and meet friends of their dad, former Mods all.
Chris Green’s screenplay keeps the Mod vibe alive through the music and the deftly crafted characters.
MacNamee is great in the lead role. The young actor has a natural presence and brings across the confusion and frustration of grief and youth. As he is in every scene, he carries the emotional weight of the film quite nicely.
Although set in modern times, “The Pebble and the Boy” has the feel of a British film from the 1960s. This is a work that could exist in Black & White but shooting in color helps to bridge the modern world with the time of the Mods. There is a dash of the British “Kitchen Sink” dramas in the spirit of this film while John’s journey becomes one of self-reflection. He learns more about who he is and the truths about his father, making this a perfect blend of the types of dramatic British filmmaking that ruled the 60s and 70s.
It can be said that a few moments border on being too maudlin (and one particular moment of violence is misplaced) but Green’s screenplay always recovers nicely through his dedication to the characters.
Fueled by an amazing soundtrack populated with songs from great bands such as The Jam, The Style Council, Secret Affair, and Paul Weller (the film’s title is taken from one of his songs), this is an emotional journey that celebrates the Mod spirit and most importantly, the connection and legacy between a father and son.
“The Pebble and the Boy” is a beautiful little film. It is both an effective portrait of grief and a “bloody ace” love letter to the Mod culture of England.
“My jacket’s gonna be cut slim and checked,
Maybe a touch of seersucker, with an open neck,
I ride a G.S. scooter with my hair cut neat,
I wear my wartime coat in the wind and sleet”
See the film. Sing the anthem. Once a Mod, always a mod!
NR, 101 Minutes, Now Films