Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Nightstream Fest: Rose Plays Julie

There are dark conversations I have been avoiding having with my own mother for decades regarding my own childhood, webs of abuse and family secrets that occasionally try to peek their feral fangs out of shadowy places only to be reshuffled to another time, another place -- the older you get the less abundant those hiding places become, and you wonder if those conversations will ever be had; should ever be had. Maybe it's better just to die with all that bullshit unsaid.

That same kind of darkness washes like black sea foam over Joe Lawlor & Christine Molloy's film Rose Plays Julie, which screened as part of the Nightstream Festival this weekend, clinging to it like a ragged coat -- the sort of damp heavy fabric that could pull you back under if you let it. We meet Rose (Ann Skelly) standing on a sea shore, looking out towards a distant lighthouse -- later we see the same image but as a photo someone took. The film repeats this pattern -- experience seconded and memorialized; actions become objects in our hands that we can burn up if we so desire. If only living were so simple.

Rose, we discover, is in search of her birth parents, and suddenly there's Mom (a terrific Orla Brady), an actress in a bad movie that Rose is watching. This sets Rose off on a journey of discovery and, eventually, revenge -- it turns out where she came from was a box of secrets probably better left undisturbed. But for whom? Who's better off leaving the past the past, its horrors unmolested? Maybe the people who get off for past crimes by our self-protective avoidance don't have that coming -- maybe stirring that shit up is righteousness after all.

That Rose Plays Leslie wrestles with these ideas of forgiveness and its flip-side is a small miracle -- that it does so so thoughtfully, quietly, and with honest earnest purity of purpose, is a bigger miracle indeed. Brady and Skelly are each hypnotic in their ways as wounded creatures nudging their half-buried personhoods out of their premature graves, suddenly fervently aware of strength in numbers as they find themselves faced with somebody to pass these batons of abuse back and forth with from across their now intertwining paths. There's hope, lightness, in unburden. 


Check out all of my reviews from the Nightstream Festival at this link here -- all of the films are still available to rent through Midnight tonight and I recommend you check out all you can! 

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