The film, with generalized documentary troupes, shows us around. Multiple drone shots closely take us in and out of the frame in question. We see the rich history, the inherent architectural importance, and the emotional connection that these men (termed boys) have with this place. The reason why the documentary is made in the first place is to pay tribute to this piece of land that has shaped their lives. No matter what class and strata these boys came from, they always found a semblance of livelihood in the skatepark.
The documentary traces these skateboarders and BMX riders who once famously abounded the Romford Skatepark in Hornchurch, London. They look back when they were feisty kids, dejected teenagers, and disturbed young lads who felt like outcasts because they couldn’t related to the real world and its problems. It follows these individual stories and how some of them treated Rom as a second home or even first in some instances.
The film manages to show how they felt liberated around this place which was made up of concrete holes of ups and downs. Recounting their life and the history of the park also comes with the baggage of having to come out of their thrill rides. The film doesn’t shy away from presenting these individuals as basic human beings who left the life of thrills to lead a life that provides. However, the artistic side of their skateboarding and BMXing gig become a real part of their existence.
The fact that Rom was given a grade two listing – giving the place an architectural inheritance shows how important it was to document everything that the place was. For people who don’t know about Rom and its fight for survival, the last leg of the film can come off as a shocker. For others like me, the leg felt like quite a stretch. It does feel like the filmmaker is trying to manipulate an emotional connection out of the viewers. Shifting from the subtle tone of the narrative into one that feels forced even though there’s no other way for it wheels out keeps the documentary from becoming anything greater than what it is.