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25 Sept 2022

What's On Column: Rose sets out to find birth mum in eerie thriller

What’s On: Kevin Dowling from Kildare takes a look at the latest films, series and documentaries

What's On Column: Rose sets out to find birth mum in eerie thriller

Rose is played by Ann Skelly in Rose Plays Julie which is available on the RTE Player

Rose Plays Julie, recently shown on RTE television, is now available on the RTE Player.

The film, from 2019, deals with the struggles of a young woman called Rose who is trying to find out her real identity. Rose (played by Ann Skelly) has recently learnt that she was adopted at birth.

Skelly’s character is a trainee vet, and there are several scenes featuring animal dissections.

This emphasis on anatomy and blood, and the way it is intertwined with the themes of blood-ties explored in the film, will no doubt have been deliberate on behalf of the directors and it adds to the dramatic tension in the film.

The storyline follows Rose’s journey to find her birth mother Ellen (Orla Brady). Ellen is a separated actor who has another daughter from a previous relationship.

Rose makes the trip over to England to try to meet her birth mother, who has expressed a preference for no contact with the daughter she gave up for adoption.

It makes for really uncomfortable viewing when Rose follows her birth mother to a film set and secretly watches her and then, later, takes a trip out to Ellen’s house.

On seeing that the house is for sale, she impersonates a buyer and inveigles her way into the house and gets an intimate tour of the place from an unwitting estate agent.

The sense of angst that Rose feels on seeing that there is a whole other world that has been hidden from her for so long is excellently portrayed by Skelly. Likewise, the discomfort and pain that Ellen must feel on realising that this young woman has made her way into the inner sanctum of her home is skilfully brought to light in Brady’s performance.

It’s only when Ellen takes Rose for a drive and explains to her the traumatic reasons for giving up her first born for adoption, that we realise there is much more going on below the surface.

We learn that Rose’s existence came out of a distressing experience that her mother has had in her past. This plot development leads Rose on her next quest, to find her father Peter.

He is a successful archaeologist, with a truly dark side that he keeps hidden from those closest to him.

Peter is played by Aidan Gillen, who can easily be considered one of Ireland’s greatest living actors.

From the simmering menace of characters he has portrayed in shows like Love/Hate and Kin to the brash charisma of Stuart in Queer As Folk, his abilities have been proven again and again.

Viewers are most likely to remember Ann Skelly from her breakout performance in Red Rock, which she was brilliant in.

In this film, her performance elicits a lot of sympathy from the audience for the character’s plight, but you also get a sense of her steely determination.

It will no doubt have been accidental, but this film’s availability on the Player at the moment is very timely. The government has begun the process of introducing into law the Birth Information and Tracing Bill 2022, which will provide a full and clear right of access to birth certificates, birth and early life information for people affected by these issues.

Dealing with this sensitive subject matter is always going to be fraught with difficulties, but it is handled well in the film.

It is true to say that the film has a particularly slow start, but it does improve as it goes along.

At times, some of the plot developments stretch the limits of your suspension of disbelief, but overall this movie is well worth watching.

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