The gritty and unrelenting Rosie is an affecting slice of life drama dealing with homelessness.
With a severe shortage of rental properties and rising rents in Ireland, Rosie Davis (Sarah Greene) and her family have been left homeless and struggling. That happened after their landlord of seven years decided to sell the house they were renting. They didn’t want to move out, but – of course – had no choice. And they haven’t been able to find an affordable replacement. So, Rosie and her chef husband John Paul and their four children – from pre-school age to 14 – try to find interim accommodation on a daily basis. It’s devastating for all of them.
They are decent people, but their situation has nothing to do with decency. Rather, it’s about economic constraints. Rosie, who is a caring and loving mother, tries her best to maintain morale for the good of her clan. But that’s increasingly difficult. She spends all day on the phone trying to find lodgings for a few nights at a time or even just a single night. When it comes, having pored through a list of possibilities from Dublin City Council, it is a godsend, but only a brief respite … and it doesn’t always come. The children are understandably unsettled and anxious. To add to the tension, John Paul has work pressures.
Rosie and John Paul can’t call upon family to house them either. His brother’s wife is pregnant and she is distanced from her mother after making allegations about her now departed father. The downward spiral shows no signs of abating.
It is quite distressing to watch and see what unfolds in Rosie. You want to reach out and lend a helping hand. Simple, everyday occurrences become far more challenging when you are basically living out of a small car, hauling your belongings with you in black garbage bags.
Greene is utterly convincing as a woman on edge, trying her hardest to keep her brood together and safe in invidious circumstances. For the most part polite and patient, flare ups are inevitable.
I was particularly taken by her performance. The handheld camera work by Cathal Watters is exemplary – very much focused on Rosie, attentively capturing her changes in temperament. Moe Dunford comes across as sympathetic and attentive as John Paul. The screenplay by Roddy Doyle (The Commitments) feels authentic.
Director Paddy Breathnach ensures the family is presented as dignified but caught in a terrible bind. What stays with you is the frustration and senselessness of it all.
Rosie is now streaming on Kanopy
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Alex First is a Melbourne based journalist and communications specialist. He contributes to The Blurb on film and theatre.