As the housing crisis reaches new heights in Dublin, a recent movie release depicts a particularly poignant portrait of the era we live in. Our 2018 November Cover Star, Sarah Greene, shared with Irish Tatler her experience shooting such a topical movie.
Directed by Roddy Doyle, Rosie tells the story of a young woman and mother struggling to find shelter and protection for her family after her landlord sells their rented house, effectively making the family of six homeless. A situation which sadly resonates with a lot of people nowadays and indeed Doyle found the inspiration for Rosie after hearing two women’s testimonies on the radio.
“That really made me think. This was a perfectly functional working-class family doing what society would like them to do – he goes off to work and she looks after the children in that traditional way. And yet the one thing missing was a home,” Doyle told the Guardian.5
Interviewed by Liadan Hynes for Irish Tatler’s November issue, Sarah Green was also shaken by the cast's witnessing first-hand families in those dire situations, as the hotel used as shooting location also serves as temporary emergency accommodation.
Greene is formidable as the lead, Rosie Davis, a role which she describes as having taken quite the emotional toll: “It was a tough shoot…We were in the car the majority of the time so it was quite claustrophobic, and that translates on screen…Paddy (Breathnach, director) was very clever shooting in the car the majority of the time, we’re in with them, we feel what they’re going through. That rising panic throughout.”
With dad John out working during the day, it is Rosie who is tasked with finding an emergency roof for her children. It is her struggle – with everyday chores, the children’s schooling and entertainment on top of useless hotel ringing - to which the viewer is privy. Moving from hotel to hotel, the family’s slow slide into precariousness is moving, eye-opening and revolting.
Indeed, Doyle’s dialogue is cutting, gripping. In part because it also reflects our own faulty judgments and how often we unconsciously blame people for being homeless, but as Greene confided to Hynes:
“I think we hear of homeless people and we think of people on the side of the street. But people become homeless, they’re not homeless people. This is people in a horrendous situation. They don’t drink, they don’t smoke, they don’t curse, they do everything right. They’re great parents, they’re a great couple. They’re just trying to do their best and all the odds are against them.”
From times immemorial, women have been categorized as carers. Rosie’s story, her inability to do so through no fault of her, makes for an engrossing portrayal of womanhood: “as women we’re not supposed to get angry, especially as a mother of kids. I think mothers are incredible at [..] protecting their children at all costs. Keeping on a brave face and making sure they feel safe and loved and ok…” When Rosie finally gives in (after a teacher gives out about her daughter’s smell) the anger, shame and fear portrayed on screen both showcase the character’s incredible strength and absolute vulnerability as a terrified mother.
About 1,698 families are reportedly living, like Rosie’s, in emergency accommodation across Ireland. This movie doesn’t offer a solution, but representation matters, and stories like Rosie’s need to be heard for things to change and for government officials to take measures.
The whole interview is available in the 2018 November Issue of Irish Tatler, OUT NOW in stores.
Rosie comes out in Ireland's cinemas on the 12th of October.