Rosies home truth
It’s been described as one of the most powerful Irish movies in years, won acclaim both here and overseas, and seen praise lavished upon its writer, director, cast, and just about everyone else involved. Produced by Element Pictures, Rosie, (coming to Virgin Movies later this season), is no ordinary film – and when we caught up with stars Sarah Greene and Moe Dunford, along
with director Paddy Breathnach, Greene confirmed it was something that struck her right away.
“It’s very rare that a script like this lands on your desk,” enthuses the Cork-born actress, whose other credits from an extraordinary 2017 include roles in Dublin Oldschool and Black 47 (both available to rent now on Virgin Movies from €4.99). “I was completely taken by the story, because of how timely it is. It’s such a comment on the situation in Ireland at the moment.”
The film follows a young woman who, along with her partner John Paul and their four children, has found herself without a home. Screenwriter Roddy Doyle was compelled to put pen to paper after hearing a story on the radio, before director Paddy Breathnach was entrusted as the man to bring it to life on screen.
“Roddy wrote it in such a brilliant way,” Paddy says. “The decency and humanity comes out in small little micro-moments. There’s an accumulation of small little lines that you could easily think aren’t important, but combined they have a huge power. I think it really showed what a good writer he is, because you don’t really see it until it all comes together.”
The result is an emotional journey as Rosie and John Paul struggle to keep their heads above water. Though it takes place over just 36 hours, it’s full of tense moments and heart-breaking scenes – and those hoping for a happy-ever-after conclusion certainly won’t find it here. “What took me as well was the ending,” Sarah says. “What happens to this family tomorrow? What does their day look like? And watching it, I think it has a big impact; there’s no glossy American ending here, and the hope that has carried through the whole film is starting to fracture and break down.”
Sarah admits that the film’s touching story affected her deeply; “It made me very angry,” she says. For Paddy, then, the challenge was to ensure a balance was struck.
“I knew there was emotion in it,” he reflects. “But I didn’t want to bring it into the realm of sentimentality, or some kind of mawkish emotion. It was about finding those moments in simple, ordinary situations; things like when a mother has to dress her daughter on the side of the street. That resonates with people. There is one moment where Rosie cracks a bit, and shows something to the outside world that we haven’t seen before. I think that’s important too, to see that her resilience is not infinite. Her ability to cope with the situation is admirable in many ways, but we see that it could go downhill.”
That demonstration of human vulnerability was greatly appreciated by the the magnificent Moe Dunford who plays John Paul.
“You’re dealing with the people first and the problem second,” Moe explains. “Rosie and John Paul are real, everyday people. There’s so... much dignity in the characters, and what they do to maintain that dignity. They don’t think about what’s happening outside of their family unit because they don’t have the time. They couldn’t show any desperation because they couldn’t let the kids see it.”
Luckily, on set it was a different matter. “Sarah and Moe were great with the younger actors,” Paddy reveals.
“I knew that they would always play a very important role, whether it was keeping the kids on track or helping me to bring ideas in. They were fantastic – and that relationship fed back into the familial quality on screen, too.”
So that old cliché about never working with animals or children is a load of nonsense? Paddy grins; “You know, I was very worried going into it; we had a tight schedule and I thought it might put us under pressure. But not only did the kids not delay it once, but when everyone else saw how good they were – their performances, their energy, their positivity – we realised we’d have to raise our games to match! The kids made everything work better.”
All involved are pleased that the film has contributed to public debate about its subject matter – but the fact that it’s a truly outstanding piece of cinema isn’t to be overlooked. “Sometimes there are times when people say it should be compulsory viewing,” Paddy smiles. “But people like the characters, and are gripped by the story. You want to make something that’s of value to watch –it’s not like being made to eat your greens!”
Rosie lands on Virgin Movies later this season! Keep an eye on our social media channels for more!