Rose Plays Julie (2019)

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I was expecting a somewhat easy ride from this Irish thriller starring GOT villain Aiden Gillen. Its slow and sparse storytelling occasionally faltered but it sucked me right in to its compelling and unsettling tale.

Rose (Ann Skelly), with her po-faced countenance, seems like any young adult unhappy with the world and her place in it. She is at veterinary college but is fascinated by London-based actor Ellen (Orla Brady), with an interest that seems to grow into an obsession. When they finally meet, we find out that there is a connection between them, one that will bring them into the path of archaeologist Peter Doyle (Gillen).

In many ways it’s a simple tale but told in a slow, almost dreamlike way where what we are shown, and what is hidden from us, keeps us guessing as to truth, sanity and motivations. The three key characters are compelling as you are never sure they are what they seem. Imagery is strong, with bleached colours, shifting focus and slow camera pans to hold us in the frame.

Directors Joe Lawlor and Christine Molloy’s use of music is interesting but didn’t quite work for me. There are acres of scenes with no music at all, and this is when the film is at its best, but then it overburdens with portentous sound, underlining tension and dread where it’s not needed. It seemed all part of the artiness of the film but was too overt in its execution.

There are a few plot holes that I was inclined to forgive but by the end, I began to feel that the story was perhaps not intended to be literal. It feels like a wish or a dream where you live out the power you can’t achieve in the sad reality of the world and your flawed choices. It is not the lesser for it.

Have you seen this film? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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