There are few prospects for young people in the Scottish town of Motherwell, where the working-class community has never recovered from the closure of the steelworks in 1997. That was the year Gemma was born, and she lends her perspective and voice to this candid coming-of-age documentary full of swearing, drinking and fighting, and the occasional moment of beauty.
Knocked up or locked up: for Gemma and her neighborhood friends, these would appear to be the only options available here. Yet leaving —as her parents did when they left her behind as a baby with her grandfather—isn’t anything she would consider. In the midst of violence and sometimes painful harshness, her grandfather offers her opportunities to channel her anger and frustration. He gives her boxing lessons and teaches her the rudiments of pigeon racing.
Cinematography, editing and music give this documentary a fiction feel in the British tradition of kitchen sink realism. When a tragedy takes place in her circle of friends shortly after the birth of Gemma’s son, the moment seems to have arrived for her to take control of things.