VOD film review: Rose Plays Julie
James R | On 08, Nov 2021
Director: Joe Lawlor, Christine Molloy
Cast: Ann Skelly, Orla Brady, Aidan Gillen
After impressing with Mister John, Irish duo Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor once again craft a riveting piece of cinema with Rose Plays Julie, a psychological drama that’s as well acted as it is unsettling.
Ann Skelly stars as Rose, a trainee vet who discovers that she was adopted. Her real mother? An actor, Ellen (Orla Brady), who happens to be selling her house. And so Rose goes along for a viewing to meet her face to face. That leads to the other key party: her father, Peter (Aiden Gillen), who is a successful archaeologist. Here, Rose plays Julie, the part of an actress keen to brush up on some real life archeology by spending time on Peter’s latest dig.
Unearthing the past, however, can be a messy business, and just like Rose’s own dissection in her real profession, the digging into buried history raises its own ethical dilemmas. Lawlor and Malloy fuse that uneasy unmasking with an undercurrent of pretence and facade, exploring the line between identity and persona – and asking the point at which, and the reasons why, someone throws up a surface-level defence.
Skelly and Gillen are superb, and their scenes together grab you by the throat with their intensity and tension – a chemistry that threatens to teeter from an estranged father-daughter awkwardness to something much darker. Orla Brady, though, emerges as the player with the most unexpected and powerful hand, and the script paces the drip-feed of revelations and confrontations with a power that grips right up until the last scene.
This review as originally published during the 2020 Amplify Film Festival.