There is moment in Paddy Breathnach’s Rosie when the titular character informs her brother-in-law that her family is “not homeless just lost. We have lost our keys.” It is a powerful moment as Rosie is determined to maintain a sense of dignity for her family. However, even when attempting to put on a brave face, the reality of their situation hangs around her neck like a noose getting tighter with each passing day.
Victims of a growing epidemic in Ireland, Rosie (Sarah Greene) and her husband John Paul (Moe Dunford) become homeless when their landlord decides to sell their rented home. Living out of their car with their four kids, Kayleigh (Ellie O’Halloran), Millie (Ruby Dunne), Alfie (Darragh Mckenzie) and Madison (Molly McCann), the couple scramble to find housing. Bouncing from one government sponsored hotel room to another, if they are lucky to even secure one for a night, Rosie spends her days on the phone looking for suitable shelter for her brood. While Rosie works the phones and drops the kids off at school, John Paul searches for permanent housing between his shifts at work.
The irony that John Paul has a job and the family is still homeless is not lost on the couple, but they are just one of thousands of people trapped in this predicament. The rising cost of rent has forced many onto the streets. As if their circumstances were not stressful enough, the couple struggle to shield their kids from the reality of the situations.
A task that gets increasingly more difficult when their children begin to be teased by their peers. Of course, Rosie and Jean Paul are not immune to societal judgment as well. Whether it is snobby realtors or the disapproving eye of relatives, the couple must fight the preconceived notions of what it means to be homeless.
Taking place over a 36-hour period, Breathnach’s film presents a heartbreaking look at the new homeless population in Ireland. Truth be told, this film could have taken place anywhere in the world. There is a universal feel to Rosie and John Paul’s plight. One identifies with the couple’s parental desire to protect and provide for their children at all cost.
Grounded by the screenplay from famed writer Roddy Doyle, Rosie makes sure the viewer feels every bit of frustration that the protagonists feel. This is especially true when observing the growing tension within Rosie herself. Filled with the sense of urgency to find a suitable roof for her family to sleep under, every call feels like another metaphorical door being slammed in her face.
The constant rejections, and the weariness of the repetitive nature of Rosie’s day, are perfectly encapsulated in Sarah Greene’s magnificent performance. Greene ensures that Rosie’s plight remains relatable at every turn and helps to emphasize the strengthening of familial bonds in times of crisis. Though they encounter several sets backs, and moments of tension, one never doubts that love is the glue keeping the family together.
This is not to say that the family bonds are not tested throughout, Rosie herself must decide if she is willing to compromise her values to appease her mother, who she is no longer on good terms with. While Doyle’s script does not delve too deeply into what caused the riff, he leaves enough clues to justify the decision Rosie ultimately makes.
Breathnach’s camera keeps the characters close in frame, which adds to the suffocating feel that the family endures sleeping in the car. Outside of a few well-placed tracking shots Rosie does not wow from a technical perspective, but this type of tale does not need to. The focus is rightfully placed squarely on the family as they navigate the unfortunate situation they find themselves in.
Rosie does not provide easy answers but finds hope in the family bonds that offer glimmers of light in our darkest moments.