Fillums: ‘Rosie’

HBB

I peeled myself from the bed like a crusty scab on Sunday morning. I was feeling tender. The night before had been the closing night of my play. I had enjoyed a few sociables. Brave plans had been made – I intended to go for an invigorating walk to clear the cobwebs in my head. I travelled as far as the fridge.

I lay on the sofa, splayed out like a stunned mullet and gingerly drank some tea. For my entertainment I scrolled through the listings of films. Having missed it when it was in the cinema last year I clicked on ‘Rosie’ – the 2018 film directed by Paddy Breathnach and written by Roddy Doyle.

Set in Dublin in the present day it is the story of Rosie Davis (played by Sarah Greene) as she deals with the fallout of having recently been made homeless. Married to John-Paul (Moe Dunford) they have four children. Each day is spent ringing hotels (on a Dublin City Council approved list) to see if she can source emergency accommodation for the night. John Paul is working a full time job, but when their landlord decided to sell their house the family find themselves thrown out to the side of the street. Tenants’ rights in Ireland are very tenuous after all.

It’s a grim, harrowing tale that is all too familiar in 2019 Ireland – a country that is being run by the Fine Gael / Fianna Fail party which is ideologically opposed addressing Ireland’s housing crisis – the worst since Famine times. The FG/FF party believes, that the ‘market’ will look after the problem – despite the fact that the number of homeless children has soared by 90% since 2016 and is now almost 4000 children in a total of 11,000.

Looking at the smirking leers of the cretinous posh-boys of Fine Gael turns my stomach. Leo Varadkar, Eoghan Murphy, Simon Harris, Simon Coveney, Paschal Donoghue, Richard Bruton – the performances of these worthless toffs range from shockingly mediocre to downright useless. Slimy, greasy inadequates who would have all been fired for sheer uselessness and thundering incompetence in any job where they might be held accountable for their abject failures as government ministers.

Sarah Green is mesmerising as Rosie, trying to keep a positive appearance on the surface, while trying to side her circumstances from her children’s teachers and old friends.

The film poses some difficult questions. Rosie has a mother who has a house which could house all the family. But the mother is waiting for an apology from her daughter that Rosie is unwilling to give. The question I asked myself is whether Rosie should swallow her pride and make an apology (however undeserved it may be) to rescue her family. There is mention of a house available in county Meath – should the family move out there to a place where they don’t know a soul? Possibly. Human beings are not statistics or numbers though. A one size fits all solution won’t work. Especially in the context of the government refusing to build houses.

If we lived in a country where the government made a minimum standard of housing a basic human right, and ensured an adequate supply of affordable housing for all Rosie’s family would not be in these desperate and heartbreaking circumstances.

A bleak and depressing film without any answers to the homelessness crisis – no answers are needed though – we all know that a massive build of state housing on state land, without the involvement of the cancerous private sector is the only answer.  ‘Rosie’ is a damning reflection on how Ireland has failed to protect its weakest citizens. Powerful stuff.

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