Rosie (2018) ☆☆☆(3/4): Homeless with her family

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“Rosie”, a small Irish independent film which was shown at the Jeonju International Film Festival early in this month and then was released in South Korean theaters in last week, looks into one ordinary woman’s hard struggle for herself and her dear family. While it is often difficult to watch to them driven further into more desperation and frustration, the movie works as an engaging drama which makes some strong points on its social subjects, and there are a number of calm but powerful moments which will definitely linger on your mind for a while after the very last shot of the film.

During the first half of the movie, we get to know about the very desperate circumstance of Rosie (Sarah Greene) and her family. They have been homeless since the house where they resided was recently sold by its owner, and they must find a new place to reside as soon as possible, but, as briefly conveyed to us at the beginning of the film, it has been pretty difficult for Rosie and her husband John Paul (Moe Dunford) to find any suitable place they can afford in Dublin. At present, they have no choice but to look for a hotel room where they can stay at least for one night, but it is also not that easy for them to find any hotel which can accommodate them and their four children.

Anyway, after checking almost every hotel on a list given to her, Rosie eventually manages to find a hotel where she and her family can stay for one night, but the next day soon comes, and things get busy as usual for her in the morning. After her husband goes to his workplace, she hurriedly takes three of her children to their schools, and then she looks for a hotel room again while frequently distracted by her youngest child Madison (Molly McCann), who, like any child at her age, often demands full attention from her mother.

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As we watch Rosie trying again and again to find any hotel to accommodate her and her family, it becomes quite possible that she and her family may not get a room this time. Due to a big event to be held in the city, many hotels are fully booked already, and it looks like Rosie and her family will have to go to a shelter for homeless people, but, unfortunately, there has already been a long waiting list for that.

Above all, it looks like Rosie and her family will have to endure their homeless status longer than they thought at first. At one point, her husband goes to a house which they may afford, but the house is already full of potential buyers when he arrives there, and he is even told by a real estate agent that the house may not be that suitable for his family.

In the meantime, we also see how this increasingly desperate circumstance affects Rosie’s children. While Madison remains rather oblivious to what is happening to the family, Millie (Ruby Dunne) and Alfie (Daragh McKenzie) have been more sensitive about their family’s ongoing homeless status, and there is a couple of heartbreaking moments which respectively show their growing shame about that. In case of Kayleigh (Ellie O’ Halloran), she eventually decides to do something for having a little respite away from her family, and the mood becomes a little more tense as Rosie and other family members look for her around here and there in the city.

Even at that point, the movie steadily maintains its detached attitude under the competent direction of director Paddy Breathnach, and the screenplay by Roddy Doyle delivers several succinct moments which subtly present some character details to notice. During one particular scene involved with Rosie’s mother, it is suggested that Rosie was not that happy with her parents for some reason, and we can discern what has been motivating Rosie to hold her family together as much as she can, though the movie does not spell that out loud for us.

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Above all, Sarah Green firmly holds the center with her strong performance. While never overlooking her character’s human flaws and vulnerability, Green is constantly compelling to watch, and we come to care about Rosie and her family even though the movie does not ask at all for any pity or sympathy on them. Considering that she has been rather unknown to many of us despite her considerable acting career, this film may be a career breakthrough for Green, and I certainly have some expectation on whatever she will give us during next several years.

It also should be mentioned that a few main cast members surrounding Green hold their own place well around her. While Moe Dunford, who has been mainly known for his supporting role in TV series “Vikings”, diligently supports Green, the young performers playing Rosie’s four children are equally fine in their respective roles, and they are especially good when they generate a brief moment of rapport along with Green and Dunford later in the story.

Overall, “Rosie” is a little overlooked movie which deserves more audiences in my opinion, and it is something you should not miss if you admire the works of Ken Roach or the Dardenne Brothers like me. This is indeed a dry, tough slice of life, but it will ultimately come to you as a solid family tale with sharp social messages, and you will agree that it earns its tentative moment of hope and optimism in the end.

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