Paddy Breathnach’s Rosie, directed from a script by Roddy Doyle, is difficult to try and pigeonhole. It’s at once an authentic family drama, a heart-wrenchingly intimate character study and a warped sort of road film, with a tight focus on displacement, space and identity which is reminiscent of the French cinematic tradition.
Crucially, though, with Irish people currently suffering in the midst of an ever-worsening housing crisis. Rosie is timely, well execute and – more than anything else – important.
The film challenges the stereotypical images surrounding homelessness and explores the extent. That to which the havoc wreak by this housing crisis is crossing social class borders. Open houses are throng with prospective buyers while spare hotel vacancies are quickly fill with displace families seeking shelter. It is painfully evident that these hotels, generous as they are, can’t be homes. That with children shush and confine to their rooms for fear of disturbing regular guests.
It is quietly moving to see the family’s belongings – regular household items. That from teddy bears to fairy liquid bottles – cram into black refuse sacks in the back of their car. Doyle’s screenplay squares up to the stigma that comes hand in hand with the label ‘rough sleeper’. “We’re not rough anything” insists the eponym at the mere mention of the term.
The profoundly moving, painfully topical drama Rosie shines a light on Dublin’s homelessness crisis and how the system is failing families.
Roddy Doyle’s pare back, effective script follows the titular Rosie (Sarah Greene). Her partner John Paul (Moe Dunford) and their four young children, over the course of a chaotic day and a half.
They find themselves without a home when the landlord of the rent house they’ve live in for seven years. They decides to sell the property. It’s a situation that’s sure to resonate with many people around the country.
While John Paul is out working in a restaurant during the day. Rosie is task with finding their family of six temporary accommodation by ringing around a list of hotels provide by Dublin City Council. The chronic shortage of rooms in the city means she is met with refusal after refusal.
Alongside trying to find her family a place to stay for the night. Rosie must also ferry the kids, 13-year-old Kayleigh (Ellie O’Halloran). Eight-year-old Millie (Ruby Dunne). Six-year-old Alfie (Darragh McKenzie) and four-year-old Madison (Molly McCann), to their various schools, feed them and keep them entertain.
It’s a daily grind made insurmountable by having no fix abode.
Most of their possessions are at a family member’s house while the rest of their day-to-day essentials are pack into black plastic bags and stuff into the boot of their car. Simple things like keeping up with the laundry, the kids’ homework, or even bathroom trips are made challenging.
The oppressiveness of the vicious cycle this family have found themselves in grows as the film unfolds. A particularly heartbreaking sequence. Where they find themselves back at their old housing estate provides one of the film’s most distressing moments.
There is a grim sense of reality in the portrayal of an open viewing. John Paul’s excitement quickly turns to despondency when he arrives to a house in East Wall. He finding it crawling with other enthusiastic parties, and is told by the estate agent that the house “isn’t really suitable for a family”. The feeling will be sickeningly familiar to those who have experience the crushing competitiveness of Dublin’s rental market.
The film is imbue with a constant state of flux and stress, with director Paddy Breathnach shooting many of the scenes inside their car, which adds to a sense of claustrophobia, and opting for a lot of shaky, hand-held camera shots to give it a feeling of intimacy.
The acting across the board is flawless, lending an unshakable feeling of realism to the film. The young actors provide easy, naturalistic performances and Dunford is excellent as the dependable, supportive father. But it is Greene who is spellbinding as Rosie, a strong, loving mother who is grappling with an increasingly desperate situation.
While Rosie doesn’t offer any easy solutions, it also isn’t totally demoralizing. There is hope, and love, which binds this family together.
The film is steep in realism and the world on-screen feels absolutely authentic. Shot on the streets of Dublin, its no-frills approach helps to make the drama feel like a documentary at times. We open with the sound of news broadcasters describing the severity of the housing crisis, blurring the lines between fact and fiction right off the bat. The score is minimalistic but used to great effect.
Rosie is a beautiful film which is bound to make audiences angry. Hiding just behind its lovable characters is a palatable undercurrent of rage, a pent-up anger at the very real plight that good people – men, women and children. They are being put through on a daily basis in this country. This is a poignant story that feels intensely personal. Sadly, it’s also urgently political.
Rating: PG-13 (for thematic material)
Directed By: Paddy Breathnach
Stars: Sarah Greene, Moe Dunford, Ellie O’Halloran
Written By: Roddy Doyle
In Theaters: Jul 19, 2019 Limited
Runtime: 86 minutes
Studio: Blue Fox Entertainment
CRITIC REVIEWS FOR ROSIE
A terrific movie and one of the best female performances of the year.
Other films have bigger budgets and more glamorous stars, some even take home more awards. But few if any can quietly move you as much as “Rosie.”
There is great sadness in this film – and great anger.
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
Moving drama about a suddenly homeless family dealing with the challenges of this increasingly common situation.