TIFF Journal: Rosie


Movie Rating:


Rosie sheds light on the plight of the working poor in Ireland by following a young family being pushed out of their middle-class lifestyle into one where the days are spent hustling for housing opportunities in a city that’s no longer conducive given what they can contribute.

Directed by Paddy Breathnach and written by The Commitments scribe Roddy Doyle, the narrative follows matriarch Rosie (Sarah Greene), who along with her kitchen staff husband (Moe Dunford) and three young kids find themselves homeless when their rental property is sold by their landlord. This results in a seemingly Sisyphean task of working through phone lists for hotel spots that will accept families for short-term stays paid for by the local councils.

Breathnach’s documentary-style, exemplified by handheld camerawork and naturalistic dialogue, brings audiences into the general struggles that Rosie and her family encounter. While the municipal social safety net is shown to have many holes, so too are the family connections. Harsh events from the past result in the inability to reconcile, forcing Rosie to choose independence out in the cold rather than ignore past transgressions for the sake of easy comfort.

These subtle character moments elevate the film from mere ponderous poverty porn. While it lacks some of the magic of, say, The Florida Project, the simple and contained storyline nonetheless effectively elicits empathy for this family and their struggles.

There are broader, more bombastic tragedies taking place in big cities all the time, but that does nothing to take away from the situation this family find themselves subject to. A study in this kind of economic limbo, Breathnach and Doyle manage to show the challenges of navigating these travails during increasingly troubled economic times. Rosie represents the journeys of many families all over the world, making its highly local message all the more universal.

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