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Review: Roddy Doyle's 'Rosie' is a heartbreaking tale of an Irish family's resilience

Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

Other films have bigger budgets and more glamorous stars, some even take home more awards. But few if any can quietly move you as much as "Rosie."

A very fine socially conscious drama in the classic Irish tradition, "Rosie" tells a sobering tale that's "based on too many true stories," the narrative of a mutually supportive family made homeless through no fault of its own.

Though the outlines are indeed familiar, several factors make "Rosie" rise above the crowd, including uniformly excellent acting and the faultless work of top Irish director Paddy Breathnach ("I Went Down," the Cuba-set "Viva.")

But the key player here is celebrated Booker Prize-winning Irish writer Roddy Doyle, whose previous screenplays became memorable films like "The Commitments," "The Snapper" and "The Van."

Doyle wrote "Rosie" after hearing a radio news report about how Dublin's acute shortage of rental properties means even people with steady jobs have difficulty finding places to live.

Unlike other writers who've taken on stories like this, Doyle has the gift of creating characters in extreme situations without hitting you over the head with their plight.

 

Made with a restraint that enhances the heartbreaking nature of its narrative, "Rosie" is also fortu-nate in having top-of-the-line Irish actress Sarah Greene, who is wrenchingly involving as a character teetering on the edge of complete desperation.

We meet Rosie Davis in a situation that will become familiar: She's sitting inside the family car, her four kids there with her, her phone to her ear, calling with ever-increasing nervousness to find a place for her family for the night.

As we gradually find out over the 36 hours we spend with them, Rosie, partner John Paul (an excellent Moe Dunford), a working dishwasher and their children had lived in the same rented house for seven years.

But two weeks earlier, their landlord suddenly decided to sell the property and Rosie is now simultaneously looking for temporary housing for her group, often on a night-to-night basis, while hoping to find the time to search for something permanent.

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