Rosie is the most important film that Irish audiences will see this year
Based on too many true stories.
So goes the tagline for the new Irish drama, a movie that literally couldn't be more timely or more topical if it tried, and a film that should be used as the emotional sledgehammer that it is to bring as much attention to the masses as is humanly possible.
Rosie takes place over just 36 hours, telling the story of a family of six in the days following their eviction from their home - the landlord decided to sell it, giving them just two weeks to find a new place to live - and the constant struggles of finding a temporary roof to put over their heads while they try to find somewhere more permanent.
It is an issue that we here in JOE have covered at length - from how Ireland has failed millennials on housing, to the response to housing crisis protests suggests many Irish people hate their own - and it is an issue that is omnipresent to an entire generation, as images of tiny rooms, overflowing with beds, paired with insanely high price-tags get shared amongst WhatsApp groups, as we attempt to deal with this epidemic by laughing it off.
There is a scene in the movie in which the family is told to spend the night in a Garda station waiting room. It doesn't get much more relevant than that.
Rosie peals away with distance and puts us right in the middle of the problem, as a loving couple and their cared-for kids find themselves barely able to keep their heads above water.
On top of the constantly swirling panic of just trying to find a hotel that will accept them for the night (which is practically a full time job in itself), using the Dublin City Council credit card, and with Rosie (Sarah Greene) caring for her four children, her partner John Paul (Moe Dunford) at an actual full-time job to make sure they still have money to put food in their mouths, these people are having to deal with the shame and embarrassment of their situation in the glances thrown their way by the strangers who pity but do nothing to help.
Director Paddy Breathnach (I Went Down, Viva) captures the realism of the situation perfectly, never dipping into melodramatics, but just letting the all-too-real dynamics play out. This family didn't do anything to suddenly deserve to be homeless, they were just the winners of this particular unlucky lottery.
Clip via Element Pictures Distribution
It also helps that the script - by Roddy Doyle, writing directly for the screen for the first time since 2000's When Brendan Met Trudy - doesn't take any easy ways out. It would be almost a foregone conclusion that this situation would have Rosie and John Paul at each other's throats, but if anything, having to fight their way out of this struggle actually brings them closer together.
Their love for their kids really shines through, as the endless days of finding a way out really is done just for them, wiping away the stress and heartbreaking tears just so the children don't think there's something wrong.
As good as the direction and writing and supporting cast might have been, a film like this really is held together by its leads. So it helps that Moe Dunford is perhaps at his most charming and likeable here, playing John Paul with a not-quite-forced optimism that helps keeps things from slipping entirely into misery porn. Having made a bit of a career playing nasty men - Black 47, Michael Inside, Handsome Devil all come to mind immediately - it is nice to see a completely different, warmer side here.
And then there is Sarah Greene.
With just a look, Greene imbues Rosie with such raw emotion, that she will have you in tears multiple times over before the film is out. She channels the character so perfectly - one that could have so easily just been played too saccharine or too hysterical - that it is nothing short of a revelation.
Combined, they've created a rare piece of art that demands the universal attention of the entire country. This isn't a true story, but it is barely fictional. Rosie is a call to arms and one that should be fully embraced.
Rosie is released in Irish cinemas from Friday 12 October.