TL;DR – A strangely completing story if a bit flawed in its execution
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
Rose Island Review –
One of the things about getting to watch a story based on a true story is that reality is often weirder than fiction. One of the more bizarre parts of world history has been the drive to create micro-states that have popped up across the world. Today we look at a story about one that was built off the coast of Italy.
So to set the scene, we open in Strasburg in 1969 at the Council of Europe. Here a sick Giorgio Rosa (Elio Germano) is waiting to be heard. After working out a scheme to get rid of him, the officials actually read his brief and become compelled to hear him out, for they want to hear about the Island that Rosa built. We then flashback over a year to when he was still a student in Bologna and crooning for Gabriella (Matilda De Angelis) who broke off their relationship three years earlier. After another run-in with the authorities, the eccentric builder tries to find a way to get away from the retractions of government, and international waters seemed like a good start.
One of the things I found interesting with this film was that it was compelling, even if not all of it comes together in the final mix. Part of what makes that work is the sheer determination of Elio Germano in his portrayal of Rosa. It was a bit frustrating at the start when he spent most of the run-time shout-talking at everyone and sundry. But as the film goes on and we get to see the lengths, he will go to protect his island from the Italian Government. Where the film also worked well was when it leaned into the absurdity of the situation. You get to see some of that at the start with the Cabinet Ministers meeting or with the security officials coming out via a boat filled with party-goers. Combine this with solid performances from the rest of the cast and a narrative framework about explaining the story to the Council of Europe, and you have a compelling narrative framework.
Where the film does not work as well as is in some of the margins. For example, Rosa’s friend Maurizio (Leonardo Lidi) is just casually racist, to the point of having people arrested to cover his own crimes and not once does the film call him out on this. While I know Rosa and Gabriella were a couple in real life, the way their love story is presented here feels narratively convenient. Also, the thing that stood out for me the most here is the poor use of visual effects. It happens throughout the film creating scenes that fall into this uncanny valley feeling. I think part of what makes it stand out is the lighting does not match what it would be in reality, and you can tell. I mean the most unrealistic thing in this film might not be the visual effects, but a student at a university was actually complaining that a class finished early.
In the end, do we recommend Rose Island? Well, there are a lot of rough edges with this film, but overall I found it engaging. However, if visuals are a considerable concern for you, you will likely find this difficult viewing. If you liked Rose Island, I would also recommend to you Eddie the Eagle.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Rose Island
Directed by – Sydney Sibilia
Written by – Francesca Manieri & Sydney Sibilia
Music by – Michele Braga
Cinematography by – Valerio Azzali
Edited by – Gianni Vezzosi
Production/Distribution Companies – Groenlandia & Netflix
Starring – Elio Germano, Fabrizio Bentivoglio, Tom Wlaschiha, Luca Zingaretti, François Cluzet, Matilda De Angelis, Leonardo Lidi, Violetta Zironi, Alberto Astorri, Marco Pancrazi, Fabrizio Rongione, Andrea Pennacchi, Riccardo Marzi, Luca Della Bianca, Marco Sincini & Ascanio Balbo
Rating – Australia: M;