SOCIAL COMMENTARY ‘Rosie’ turns the lens on homelessness, a reality for so many families across Ireland today.
Roddy Doyle hasn’t had written a film in almost 20 years, as he has been focusing on his novels. However, two years ago, the author – who penned The Commitments, The Snapper and Family – heard a homeless mother in Dublin being interviewed on the radio.
She described her day, which had been spent phoning hotels in a desperate bid to find a room for her partner and their five children to spend the night. She would repeat the process the next day, and the day after that, with no end to their plight in sight.
Moved, Doyle set aside the book he was working on and immediately started a screenplay for ‘Rosie’, which opened in Ireland last October.
Written by Doyle and directed by Paddy Breathnach (‘I Went Down’, ‘Viva’), ‘Rosie’ is the story of an Irish family who find themselves without a home after their landlord decides to sell their rented accommodation. It will be screened in Westport’s W Cinema tomorrow night as part of Westport Film Club’s spring line-up.
Rosie is a mother of four, and she and her partner John Paul do everything in their power to protect their children and maintain their dignity as the country’s housing crisis threatens their family’s safety and unity.
With grace and tenderness, this young mum balances the care of her four children alongside the increasingly futile and frustrating search for a new home. Set over an intense 36 hours, the film follows Rosie as she struggles to hold her family close, persevering against a crisis not of her making. Simple, spare, moving and hard to watch, this gripping film has been described as prescribed viewing
The title character is played by Sarah Greene, who many will recognise from ‘Pennydreadful’, ‘Rebellion’ and ‘Black 47’, while John Paul is played by Moe Dunford, whose acting credits include ‘Vikings’ and ‘Handsome Devil’.
The film’s release is timely, as Ireland’s homelessness crisis has continued to worsen. In the week of January 21-27, 2019, there were 9,987 people homeless across Ireland, according to Focus Ireland. This figure includes adults and children. The number of homeless families has increased by 83 percent since January 2016. More than one in three people in emergency accommodation is a child.
However, this number does not include ‘hidden homelessness’, which refers to people who are living in squats or ‘sofa surfing’ with friends. Furthermore, women and children staying in domestic violence refuges are not included in these homeless emergency accommodation counts. The national figure also does not include people who are sleeping rough.
According to Focus Ireland research and analysis, the overwhelming number of families becoming homeless had their last stable home in the private rented sector, and the crisis in this sector is the immediate cause of their homelessness – landlords selling up or being repossessed, shortage of properties to rent, scarcity of properties accepting rent supplement, and high rents.
Most of the families becoming homeless have never experienced homelessness before and never thought this could happen to them. Thousands more families are struggling on very low incomes or social welfare, and many are falling into serious housing difficulties as rents continue to rise.
‘Rosie’ has been praised by Irish homeless charities as an accurate and realistic portrayal of the homelessness crisis, with one charity (Inner City Helping Homeless) claiming it should be prescribed viewing for Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and his government.
Westport Film Club will screen ‘Rosie’ tomorrow night (Wednesday), March 6, at 8.45pm at the W Cinema. Tickets can be purchased in the cinema from 8.30pm. Non-members are always welcome, and guests can pay €10 entry per film. Next month’s screening is the Swedish film ‘Border’, which will be shown on April 3, while the Oscar-nominated ‘Shoplifters’ will finish Westport Film Club’s spring season on May 1.