Recently I came across the film Rosie via the Instagram of Sarah Greene – you might know her as Lorraine Waldron, Connell’s mother from Normal People. Since Normal People I’ve been actively watching a lot more Irish productions, and also a lot of films/ series featuring Sarah Greene, so naturally I put Rosie next on my list to watch. This film had a lasting impact on me, it’s not one I’ll forget quickly as it hits so hard in the current Irish housing climate. For this reason I’ve decided to review it in this post.
Written by Roddy Doyle and directed by Paddy Breathnach, Rosie follows a working class family living in Dublin who are suddenly forced to leave their rental property after it is sold by their landlord. As the film unfolds over the following 36 hours, they face a heartbreaking struggle to find anywhere short term to live, let alone long term.
Rosie Davis is a desperate mother, and while husband John Paul (Moe Dunford) works in an upmarket kitchen to scrape together enough money to cover Dublin rent, the progression of the plot is mainly driven by Rosie’s quest to find a home for her family. She is rarely seen without her phone, a city council credit card, and a list of numbers in hand, while at the same time trying to hold herself together in front of her children and make sure that nothing seems out of the ordinary for them at school.
We only see Rosie break down once, as she has to drag the children away from their old garden and trampoline, and the fact that she has held herself together until now makes this all the more poignant.
The filming style of Rosie can be described as quietly intimate – long handheld camera shots are used very often so that the audience is fully focused on the emotional journey of Rosie Davis, and on Sarah Greene’s incredible performance. The music used is emotional yet not over fussy, once again allowing the viewer to be fully drawn to the Rosie’s journey. Piano chords are carefully used in a way to complement rather than distract or overwhelm.
The understated production in many areas forces the film to really confront the issues faced by Rosie Davis, and to really linger on some of the most heartbreaking moments she experiences, which are caused by not being able to protect her children from this brutal reality.
The performance of the rest of the Davis family must also be mentioned – Kayleigh (Ellie O’Halloran), Millie (Ruby Dunne), Alfie (Darragh McKenzie) and Madison (Molly McCann) are names that will definitely be heard again soon within Irish film. While Rosie is looking for somewhere for her family to live, she is also faced with her oldest daughter, Kayleigh disappearing without a word as she also struggles to deal with this reality as a young teenagers. The other children are younger and have no understanding of what is happening, other than how it affects them in school. The topic of this film is something that any young person would be challenged to confront, so these young actors must really be applauded for their entirely believable performance in this film.
Rosie has been praised by critics as “an indispensable film about contemporary Ireland that demands to be seen by all” and I thoroughly agree with this. It brings to mind many questions about how these circumstances are true for too many people in Ireland today, even with one parent working.
It’s not often that I get hit as hard by a film as I did watching this – when I finished watching it I felt run over by emotion and just had to sit and process it for about ten minutes. This is a very compelling watch – while at times uncomfortable in subject and depth, I really appreciated the whole story and how it was told. This is a story not usually dissected in this depth by many films which is part of what makes the writing of this story so captivating.
Rosie is an unforgivingly raw look at Ireland today through the eyes of one working class family and as a result of this it is one of the most important things you’ll watch.
‘Rosie’ can be watched on Google play or Youtube for €2.99.
That’s all for now!