REVIEW- Rosie: A complex drama about the strength of family set against the backdrop of the housing crisis in Dublin

Rosie follows the titular character and her family as they attempt to find temporary housing in Dublin at a time
when the housing crisis is at an all-time high and spaces are sparse. The film begins with Rosie (Sarah Greene) calling all hotels in the surrounding area who would be able to house them but is having difficulty as many of them are already full. To add to this, her three young children are fighting with each other in the back of the car and her oldest
daughter is in the front seat attempting to do her homework. Rather than fall into stereotypes all four children become fleshed out in order to show the dynamics of their family and how a crisis can affect its different members. Meanwhile, Rosie’s partner John Paul (Moe Dunford) is working long hours in a kitchen for a boss who is difficult and inflexible. As the film goes on, it becomes evident that the stresses and complexities of everyday life, in addition to the strain caused by their housing situation, are starting to take a toll on both Rosie and John Paul. They mask the true nature of their predicament from their children, their families, their friends and any other characters they interact with outside of their immediate family. In the end their life splits into two: the one they live privately and the one they publicly.

In their attempts to disguise the truth, Rosie and John Paul often find themselves trapped, both physically and mentally, as they try to ensure as normal a life as possible for their children. Several times in the film, when we see Rosie away from the façade and strength that she puts on for her children, she is framed within a confined space, such as a doorway or an alleyway. A large part of the film takes place in their car, adding to the claustrophobic atmosphere of the film. The most tense and difficult moments in the film take place when the entire family and their belongings are in the car. However, one scene contrasts this, as the happiest moment of levity in the entire film comes from the entire family eating together in the car. The car becomes symbolic of the transitional nature of their lives, as the characters are constantly moving, whether it is in the car, walking or even on the bus. Movement is considered a positive, as it means that they are moving towards a room, somewhere to stay but stillness, in contrast, means they are stuck, unable to move and don’t have anywhere to go.

The film’s strength largely lies with the dynamic between the actors in the film and the realistic portrayal of family life. Sarah Greene shows every aspect of motherhood and its complexities. Her love for every one of her children is evident in every action that she takes. She tries to ensure that they can continue their lives with as much normalcy as possible, so that they can maintain some semblance of stability. Each child is their own character with their own trials and tribulations so that we can see how each member of the family is affected by their situation. This is especially shown through their teenage daughter, who has to struggle with puberty whilst also dealing with the terrifying reality of not having a home. Most importantly, no single person is villainised and everyone’s actions are portrayed without bias and with sympathy. Often, films show that difficult circumstances can break apart families but in this film the main focus of the parents is to ensure that their children are safe and as happy as they can be. Both John Paul and Rosie attempt to shield their children from the truth of their situation whilst also trying to shield the truth of their predicament from the outside world. The children, and their childhood toy Peachy, become the anchors and strength that the two need to carry on in the face of adversity.

Rosie tackles the homelessness crisis in Dublin through the lens of Rosie and John Paul’s family with nuance and respect for their subjects. The social stigma around homelessness and how it affects all the children, as well as their parents, show that there needs to be more of a light shed on the reality facing a rising number of people. By giving each character an important story arc, it becomes evident that the housing crisis is more complicated and far-reaching than is evident at first. By conveying the entrapment and helplessness of the family and the mask they have to wear in the outside world, we see how difficult and strained everyday life can become. Whilst dealing with a larger social issue, Rosie also contains very human moments in the interaction between the family members and their love for each other. Mostly, this is a film about family and the extent to which parents will go in order to ensure the safety and protection of their children. Despite their difficult circumstances, the family still find moments of levity and togetherness that show how their feelings of love for each other can sustain them through the most difficult of times. The film manages to balance reality with a sense of hope, which allows the audience to see all the complexities of Rosie’s family’s life.

 

by Aleena Augustine

Aleena is a Classics graduate who splits her time between High Wycombe (just outside of London) and wherever the latest film or TV show she is bingeing is set. She enjoys watching rom-coms (they are not just a guilty pleasure), coming of age films (from John Hughes to Greta Gerwig), animated films (cries at every single one), comedies featuring a strong female ensemble (thank you, Bridesmaids) and psychological thrillers (BONUS if they’re directed by David Fincher). Her favourite films are Before Sunrise, Inside Out, Zodiac and When Harry Met Sally. You can also find her on her blog, That’s What She Said and as a contributor for the music blog, Music Bloggery.

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