Rose (Ann Skelly) is a promising veterinary student in Dublin. Despite having a loving relationship with her adoptive parents, she has been searching for her birth mother for many years. When Rose finally tracks Ellen (Orla Brady) down in London, she forces her to reveal a painful secret from her past. This shocking revelation rattles Rose’s already fragile sense of identity and draws her into a dangerous world of impersonation, deception and revenge.
Nominated for “Best Film” at the London Film Festival, ROSE PLAYS JULIE has garnered accolades at festivals the world over. Alistair Ryder of Film Inquiry wrote “Christine Malloy and Joe Lawlor’s film is one of the best screen depictions of the internal struggle of being adopted perfectly realizing a character’s permanent sense of existential displacement, and constant worries that she’s not living the life she was intended for. I was absolutely floored by this film”. Martyn Conterio of CineVue says that “its emotional dilemmas, depictions of trauma, revenge and fractured family ties are handled with such skill and sense of purpose, it is truly exemplary film-making.” And Jared Mobarak of The Film Stage calls ROSE PLAYS JULIE “a powerful journey into the heart of darkness.”
What We Thought:
I first watched Rose Plays Julie a couple of months back and really enjoyed it. I got the DVD and popped it in to see if it’s still as good already knowing what would happen and I have to say, it still holds up very well. The acting and pacing are its biggest positives with the performances keeping you guessing at what will happen and the not overly long runtime keeping it from wandering.
It is a psychological thriller about an adopted woman finding out the hard truth about her biological parents. Ann Skelly seeks the truth and maybe a bit of revenge after finding out the past. It starts off with the introduction of Skelly’s character of Rose. She is studying veterinary science and learns her birth mother is an actress (played by Orla Brady). She stalks her a bit before finally introducing herself as the daughter that was given up. Brady has put together a solid life for herself with a family and career and isn’t prepared to meet Rose. But they talk and Brady’s character explains why she was put up for adoption and who her biological father is.
The father is played by Aidan Gillen and the film takes a nice turn here. Rose pretends to be an actress herself and wants to get into a character which allows her to get close to Gillen. He lets her work around him thinking she’s learning for her trade and because he sees her as attractive. Gillen is well known in his field, but has a dark past. As she gets more involved with him, she wants revenge for all that has happened.
Rose Plays Julie is a pretty taught thriller. You’re not sure which direction it will go and Skelly is great and gives off strong Jodie Comer vibes in the lead role. I’m not overly familiar with her previous work, but she really impressed me here. Of course Brady and Gillen are fantastic as usual and Gillen really gets under your skin. It doesn’t wander and gets you right into the story pretty quickly. It is definitely…
- Bonus Short Film — Who Killed Brown Owl (Directed by Christine Molloy & Joe Lawlor | United Kingdom | No Dialogue | 10 minutes) — A lovely tableau of tranquil goings-on in an enchanted London park slowly reveals that not all is at it may seem. Shot in 2004 on 35mm.
Written & Directed by: Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor
Cast: Ann Skelly, Orla Brady, Aidan Gillen, Annabell Rickerby, Catherine Walker, Joanne Crawford, Alan Howley, Sadie Soverall
Produced by: David Collins, Joe Lawlor
Co-Produced By: Eoin O’Faolain
Executive Produced by: Celine Haddad
Cinematography: Tom Commerford
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Running Time: 100 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen
Audio: 5.1 Surround Sound/2.0 Stereo