×

Film Review: ‘Rosie’

Dublin’s housing crisis renders a working-class family temporarily homeless in this tense dramatic miniature penned by Roddy Doyle.

Director:
Paddy Breathnach
With:
Sarah Greene, Moe Dunford, Ellie O’Halloran, Ruby Dunne, Darragh McKenzie, Molly McCann.

1 hour 26 minutes

Various factors have set housing costs skyrocketing in many major cities worldwide, creating numerous problems — not least the increasing forcing-out of native residents in favor of better-heeled newcomers. Penned by Irish novelist Roddy Doyle, “Rosie” offers a microcosm of that crisis in Dublin, as a working-class family finds itself literally (if hopefully just temporarily) homeless.

The excruciating difficulties of being stuck in a car with four restless children all day, and no certainty of proper beds at night, are made all too vivid in this drama set over one 36-hour period. It’s not an experience many viewers will want to share, even vicariously, and the lack of star names will further limit commercial prospects. Still, Paddy Breathnach’s film is an admirable distillation of a jam happening to more and more people who never imagined being in such straits — and who, until recently, would have scarcely been at risk of it.

Rosie Davis (stage actress Sarah Greene, best known outside the U.K. for TV series “Penny Dreadful”) is the managing type, more than sufficiently equipped to handle her demanding household, whose junior residents range from toddler to teenager. She’s got a devoted husband in John Paul (Moe Dunford), but he’s away at a restaurant job most of the day, and his modest wages can’t compete in the brutal housing market they’ve been plunged into since having to leave their longtime abode two weeks ago. With four kids, they’re too large a group to crash at any friend’s place. Rosie’s mother might help, but the two have been estranged over unspecified abuse allegations related to her late husband, which grandma won’t accept and Rosie refuses to back down from.

That leaves this brood in an impossible situation, stuck with their belongings in the car all day, every day. The three older kids at least get out to go to school, but they’re still each acting out the strain in different ways: Lone son Alfie (Darragh Mckenzie) is all pent-up energy; Millie (Ruby Dunne) keeps claiming she’s sick; eldest Kayleigh (Ellie O’Halloran) is throwing a colossal sulk. Only little Madison (Molly McCann) is young enough to take it all in stride, more or less — unless she’s in need of a bathroom, which is one more thing that is now always a logistical problem.

Adding to their woes is the fact that Rosie seldom has time to look for a new long-term home. Instead, she must spend an inordinate amount of each day calling a long list of local motels ostensibly willing to accept government vouchers for temporary housing. Even when she does find a vacancy, it’s usually just for a single night — forcing them to cram into one room, unpack all their belongings, then pack up again the next morning.

It’s an almost unendurable circumstance already, made even worse by two crises. First, Kayleigh doesn’t show up after school as usual, failing to answer her phone and triggering a panicked search. Next, the inevitable moment arrives when there are no motel rooms to be had, period, and the family of six must spend a night in the car.

Such unpleasant domestic emergencies are seldom dwelt on in movies, and when they are, it’s often to comic effect. But there’s nothing funny about them in real life. “Rosie” captures the exhausting stress of a collective life out of control through no fault of its own; the title figure keeps muttering “Sorry” over her flashes of fraying temper, though in truth, it’s remarkable she maintains her grip as well as she does.

Greene’s everyday Mother Courage is the dominant figure here, but this is really a tight ensemble piece, and Breathnach does a fine job handling the child as well as adult performers. In terms of style, the movie has a hand-held, often claustrophobic immediacy that is effectively tense rather than wearing — we very much feel how habitable space constricts around this address-free family until they can hardly breathe. Yes, their love for one another may well see them through it. But this small, tough film provides no easy solutions.

Film Review: 'Rosie'

Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Contemporary World Cinema), Sept. 7, 2018. Running time: 86 MIN.

Production: (Ireland) An Element Pictures production, in association with Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland, Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, RTÉ. (Int'l sales: Protagonist Pictures, London.) Producers: Emma Norton, Rory Gilmartin, Juliette Bonass. Executive producers: Ed Guiney, Andrew Lowe, Roddy Doyle, Dearbhla Regan.

Crew: Director: Paddy Breathnach. Screenplay: Roddy Doyle. Camera (color, HD): Cathal Watters. Editor: Una Ni Dhonghaile. Music: Stephen Rennicks.

With: Sarah Greene, Moe Dunford, Ellie O’Halloran, Ruby Dunne, Darragh McKenzie, Molly McCann.

More Film

  • A Faithful Man

    Film Review: 'A Faithful Man'

    French actor Louis Garrel has been married twice, first to Iranian talent Golshifteh Farahani, and now to model-cum-actress Laetitia Casta. He has also directed two features, the first a free-wheeling love-triangle comedy called “Two Friends” in which Garrel plays the cad who comes between his best friend and the object of his obsession (played by [...]

  • LGBTQ Film Festival Outfest Opens With

    LGBTQ Film Festival Outfest Opens With Documentary About Gay Porn Shops Circus of Books

    Granted, the red carpet at the opening night of Outfest in DTLA may not have been the most star-studded but it was without a doubt the most diverse, inclusive and, yes, fabulous. “I’ve never been here before,” admitted “RuPaul’s Drag Race” vet Trixie Mattel, who stars in the documentary “Moving Parts.” “It’s supposed to be [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Russ Tamblyn's Career Had Legs After Childhood

    With an acting career that spans work for Cecil B. DeMille and Joseph Losey to Quentin Tarantino and David Lynch, Russ Tamblyn’s creativity and longevity is proof that there’s life after child stardom. In Tamblyn’s case, there’s also been a bounty of juicy film and TV roles long after his legendary legs no longer kicked [...]

  • Olivia Wilde Booksmart Director

    Film News Roundup: Olivia Wilde to Direct Holiday Comedy for Universal

    In today’s film news roundup, Olivia Wilde has landed another directing gig following “Booksmart” and revenge thriller “Seaside” and “Woodstock: The Directors Cut” get August release dates. PROJECT LAUNCH Olivia Wilde will direct and produce an untitled holiday comedy project for Universal Pictures with her “Booksmart” partner Katie Silberman. Universal outbid five other studios for [...]

  • Choas Charles Mansion and the CIA

    Amazon Studios Takes Film Rights to Manson-Centered Drama 'Chaos' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Just in time for the 50th anniversary of the grisly murders executed by the followers of Charles Manson, Amazon Studios has optioned film rights to a nonfiction title about a journalist who spent decades obsessively following the case. The studio will adapt “Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties,” from [...]

  • Sword of Trust

    Marc Maron on 'Sword of Trust,' Lynn Shelton and Conspiracy Theories

    Marc Maron has interviewed everyone from Bruce Springsteen to President Obama, so he’s probably learned a few things about being a good interview. Of course, as he points out, he generally has over an hour to talk leisurely speak with his guests in his home and draw out stories beyond the public narrative; it’s a [...]

  • Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes - The

    Andrew Lincoln's ‘Walking Dead’ Movies to Be Released Only in Theaters

    The first planned movie centered on “The Walking Dead” character Rick Grimes will now run in theaters rather than on AMC. The announcement was made with a brief teaser video played at San Diego Comic-Con on Friday, with the video ending with the words “Only in Theaters.” The film will be distributed by Universal Pictures. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content