American audiences, for some reason, cannot get enough drama in their lives nowadays. A quick run through the broadcast and cable ranks, and even the streaming options out there serves well to support that statement. The same applies in looking at all the dramas that fill the cinematic realm, too. To that end, Film Movement did its part this past July to give American audiences their drama fix when it brought the independent drama Rose Plays Julie to DVD. Originally released in 2019 in Ireland and the United Kingdom through Desperate Optimists and Samson Films, the movie is an interesting though imperfect presentation that ultimately would be a good fit for Lifetime Movie Network’s lineup. That is due in large part to its story, which will be discussed shortly. While the story is interesting, its pacing proves extremely problematic. This will be discussed a little later. The background information provided by Film Movement and the movie’s co-directors in the DVD’s packaging works with the movie’s story to give it at least a little more interest. It will also be examined later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the movie’s presentation. All things considered, they make Rose Plays Julie worth watching at least once.
Desperate Optimists/Samson Films’ 2019 drama Rose Plays Julie is a good option for American audiences who just cannot seem to get enough drama in their lives. It is an especially good selection for audiences who are loyal to Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network. That is proven in large part through the movie’s story. The story in question centers on young Rose (Ann Skelly – The Nevers, Red Rock, Kissing Candice) as she goes down the proverbial rabbit hole in search of her birth parents. The story opens with Rose knowing the identity of her birth mother, but not that of her birth father, nor the circumstances under which she was conceived. When her birth mother, Ellen (Orla Brady – Star Trek Picard, Fringe, Into The Badlands) reveals those circumstances, it sends Rose over the edge so to speak. She learns the identity of her birth father – Peter (Aiden Gillen – The Dark Knight Rises, Game of Thrones, Maze Runner: The Death Cure) – and takes on a heavy plan. As Rose and Peter get to know one another, Peter proves to be every bit the despicable figure that Rose imagined as he tries to rape her, not knowing she is his daughter. He does not know because of the act that she takes on to find him. One should digress here, Rose is so disgusted by Peter prior to his attempted rape of her that she had decided she was going to do something drastic (what she plans to do it pretty unsurprising, but at the same time, she cannot be blamed for wanting to do him in). When she ends up not killing Peter, someone else does. It does not take a genius to know who does. To that end, how it happens will be left for audiences to learn for themselves. Given, Peter deserved what he got. At the same time though, it is all so formulaic. It is, again, everything that audiences expect from a typical Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network presentation. That is not to say that it is not worth watching. Thanks to the actually believable work of the movie’s cast, audiences will actually find themselves remaining engaged and entertained, even though they know what is coming. To that end, the story does make this movie worth watching at least once.
While the story featured in Rose Plays Julie makes the movie at least somewhat appealing, the story’s pacing detracts greatly from that appeal. The movie’s run time is listed at one hour, 40 minutes. The thing is that because of the pacing, which drags almost consistently throughout the movie, that run time feels so much longer. What it is that makes the pacing move so slowly is difficult to pinpoint. Maybe it is the general lack of any musical backing to help establish much emotional connection from scene to scene. Maybe it is all of the exposition from scene to scene. Maybe it is both of those items or something else altogether. Regardless of what ultimately causes the pacing to drag so consistently, that problem ultimately makes watching the movie extremely difficult. If not for the ability of the story and the cast to keep audiences engaged, that issue would be the proverbial last straw for the presentation. Luckily, there is still one more aspect in this movie’s domestic presentation that keeps it from being a complete failure. That aspect is the background provided about the movie in the DVD’s packaging.
Co-Directors Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor point out in their comments in the movie’s notes, that the movie was originally made with the intent to examine the impact of rape on victims beyond just the emotional and psychological. Understanding this, it makes the story timely, especially what with the matter of abortion being in the headlines so much lately. The duo adds that it just so happened that the MeToo movement just started to take hold in the U.K. as the movie’s production neared its end. So in other words, this movie was not part of that movement. That actually makes suspension of disbelief easier. That ability of audiences to not feel preached at in turn leads to more insurance of viewers’ engagement and entertainment.
The added note by Film Movement that the company chose to bring the movie to American audiences because of its psychological nature will resonate with audiences, too. Again that avoidance of any promotion of preachy-ness even in these notes means that the attention was placed on the movie’s intrinsic value. Once more, that audiences do not received any of that sense of being preached at means even more that they are likely to remain engaged and entertained. Keeping that in mind along with the interest generated through the Co-Directors’ comments and through the story itself, the movie ultimately proves to be worth seeing at least once. That is even with the issue of the movie’s pacing taken into account.
Film Movement’s domestic presentation of Desperate Optimisits/Samson Films’ Rose Plays Julie is an intriguing addition to this year’s field of new domestically-released independent movies. Its intrigue comes in part through its story. The story follows a young woman who is driven to the brink of committing a heinous act as she learns the circumstances surrounding her conception and birth. The serious matter that is approached here is what makes it so engaging. The work of the movie’s cast is even more so to credit to keeping viewers’ attention. Without their work, the sad reality is that the movie is otherwise just another movie that would fit so well on Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network’s daily lineup. The movie’s pacing hurts its presentation even more. That is because it drags throughout the movie, not just at points. Luckily its negative impact is not enough to make the movie a complete failure. The background information shared in the DVD’s packaging helps establish at least some more appreciation for the movie. Together with the serious nature of the movie’s story and the cast’s work, that information gives audiences just enough to make the movie worth seeing at least once.
Rose Plays Julie is available now on DVD through Film Movement. More information on this and other titles from Film Movement is available at:
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