YOU KNOW THE guy who stands on the street corner you drive past every day? The woman who walks through the shopping centre where you shop, all her worldly possessions in two bags she carries? What about the teenager you see skulking around the municipal bins when the refuse is collected? What happens to these people at night? How did they reach this place in their lives? The plight of the urban indigent is the focus of Rosie, an Irish film on this year’s European Film Festival, devastating in its directness and simplicity. Directed by Paddy Breathnach, this essay on the need to hold onto dignity at all costs is significantly complemented by the Swedish work Push, also on this year’s European Film Festival.
Unlike Push, however, it’s not a blatant advocacy piece, and is constructed around an intensely well filmed fictional young family and their fierce need to hold on tight, come what may. But like Push, it offers a clear and bald insight into what can happen when the structures of society let people – and families – fall through the cracks.
Rosie features beautiful performances by Moe Dunford as John Paul, the husband and father, and Sarah Greene in the eponymous role, as the mum of four beautiful children. It’s a work both polite and rude, which touches on the issues of bullying, keeping up appearances and nursing grudges. Above all, it’s about the mouth-drying horror of contemplating what can happen if no one is out there to offer the narrative a happily ever after.
Devoid of sensationalism or gratuitous drama, the work has a rich and fine heart of credibility. The children cast are simply beautiful with the fierce bravado of the couple’s son, Alfie (Darragh Mckenzie) that will utterly break your heart. It’s a film that, like the Austrian work Styx – another work on this festival – is stripped of a complex plot. The story can be told in one sentence, but it is the texture of the love, the car, the relentless phonecalls and the need to attend to children’s whims and bruises that will hold you transfixed, weeping.
- Rosie is directed by Paddy Breathnach and features a cast headed by Moe Dunford, Ruby Dunne, Sarah Greene, Molly McCann, Darragh Mckenzie and Ellie O’Halloran. It is written by Roddy Doyle and, produced by Juliette Bonass, Rory Gilmartin and Emma Norton, it features creative input by Stephen Rennicks (music), Cathal Watters (cinematography), Úna Ní Dhonghaíle (editing), Louise Kiely (casting), Mark Kelly (production design) and Louise Stanton (costumes). It is part of the European Film Festival, screening in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria from November 29.