Rosie (2018) | Dir. Paddy Breathnach | Cast: Ellie O'Halloran, Moe Dunford, Ruby Dunne, Sarah Greene | Writer: Roddy Doyle (screenplay)
An issue that is still painfully relevant today, Rosie takes a very intimate and personal look at the Irish housing crisis through the lens of a mother, father and their four children. What's great about the film is that it never preaches to you or forces any messages down the viewer's throat. Instead, it's a deeply moving character study and highlights just how tiring and stressful it is to simply find somewhere to sleep for one night. The narrative structure of Rosie is agonizingly circular. Many questions the film poses - including whether all hope is lost for this family - are never answered.
The film opens in a car, where the titular mother (a powerful Sarah Greene) makes several emergency phone calls. Rosie desperately needs to find somewhere where she, her husband John Paul (Moe Dunford) and the children - Kayleigh, Millie, Alfie and Madison - can find some shelter for the night. We see Rosie making these phone calls throughout the film because, for every day that her husband fails to secure a home for them (through no fault of his own), Rosie must go through the torturous cycle of pleading for a place to stay. Scenes like this could get very tedious to watch, but the continuous heightening desperation makes these moments very tense and heart-wrenching.
Even more upsetting is the scene where Rosie insists that she is a good mother when she is informed that one of her children has been called "Smelly Millie" at school, and the moment when she drags her youngest son away from a trampoline because there is simply no time for fun and games. Rosie and John are incredibly likeable parents; their lives literally revolve around looking after their kids and keeping them happy as possible, while the two of them feel like their lives are falling into complete disarray. There is not a single moment where they are given time to relax. Rosie takes no pleasure in shouting at her children or ruining the fun for them. She simply wants to feel secure before she can allow her playful side to return. But in this dire situation, she worries that she never will.
The sheer determination displayed by both parents is remarkable, courageous and very inspiring, and I do not doubt for a second that there are a substantial amount of parents out there doing the very same thing for their families now. It also must be mentioned that the acting across the board is outstanding. The children deliver very naturalistic performances and the moments where they get upset feel genuine. Moe is also terrific as the hardworking, supportive husband, but there's a reason why so much focus is on Rosie. Sarah Greene is mesmerising. She begins the film as a calm and collected woman, but the heartache she endures becomes very visible as the story progresses. Her facial expressions and inwardness suggest that she is struggling to take any more bad news, but her resistance to ever give up makes her an authentic and admirable heroine.
There is nothing loud or bold about the directing, but this story doesn't require anything stylistic. Paddy Breathnach directs Rosie in a personal, sometimes claustrophobic, manner. The scenes in the car especially make the viewer feel like they're struggling for breath. There's no real sense of satisfactory space for the family at any point in the film, highlighting the suffocating situation they have been forced into after a landlord sells their property. Like I, Daniel Blake, it is the type of story that will resonate with many, and the realistic acting across the board allows the viewers to put themselves into this terrifying position.