Cast: Sarah Greene, Moe Dunford, Natalia Kostrzewa, Ellie O’Halloran
Director: Paddy Breathnach
Full disclosure before I start this review. I have never been homeless in my native country, so I certainly haven’t been homeless in Ireland. With that in mind, the amazing level of empathy that Rosie covers this topic with takes a situation that most people haven’t been in and nobody wants to be in and translate the ramifications of the low points of our lives over the course of 86 minutes. Succinct, powerful, and human at its very core, Rosie tackles a subject that we may not feel comfortable talking about, but one that we need to address if we are to use our resources to finally eradicate it.
The film follows Rosie Davis (Greene), a young Irish mother looking to find permanent housing for her, her husband, and her four kids. Through the 86 minute runtime, we watch as Rosie consistently tries to find temporary housing, manage her kids as they struggle with school and growing up, and the consequences that stem from all of these decisions. For an international film, Rosie makes the wise choice of focusing on issues that can impact someone regardless of what country they were born in. We live in the most prosperous time in human history and yet something as basic as housing is still an issue for millions of people around the world. Psychologists such as Maslow have identified the need for housing and how valuable it is for our success. The fact that this still needs to be addressed at this point in our history is baffling to me, but the way that Rosie handles it is accurate and emotionally relevant. On the flip side of the homelessness storyline, we see what sacrifices Rosie has to make on a daily basis so her children can have the bare necessities of life. You can say a lot of things about this movie and its characters, but the one thing everyone can absolutely agree on is Rosie has a pure and unconditional love for her children. Sure she has her moments of stress that every person and parent have, but the lengths she will go to so that her children can live with the essentials is awe-inspiring. While Rosie may be more of a case study of what homelessness in Ireland looks like, but it’s also far and away what pure, unconditional love looks like from a mother using every minute of her time to look out for the people she cares about. I don’t know a whole lot about Irish mainstream actors, but if Greene gives a performance like this one in all of her other movies there’s no reason why she won’t be one of the biggest draws in the country. Writer Roddy Doyle seems to have a strong understanding as to what this issue looks like in Ireland and was able to give Breathnach and Greene and clean canvas to paint the true fear and desperation that homelessness can bring onto a family. Anything that gets shown at TIFF is usually a good indicator of a project bound to be successful and it’s clear to me that Rosie is another strong Toronto showing.
Overall, it’s a shame that more audiences weren’t exposed to Rosie, because it’s a wonderful blend of both heartbreaking reality and heartwarming hope. We see similar movies like this in the United States, but I think the unique environment that this takes place in elevates the movie and makes it stand out more. When a movie so fearlessly tackles a universal issue in the way that Rosie did, it should be recognized by as many audiences as possible and the whole country of Ireland should be proud of this movie.
Overall Score: 7.5/10