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MOVIES: Rose: A Love Story - Review (LFF 2020)

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Rose: A Love Story is a darkly haunting and atmospheric debut British horror film from the talented Jennifer Sheridan that benefits from the chemistry between Peaky Blinders veteran Sophie Rundle and Devil’s Pass actor Matt Stokoe. There’s an air of Let the Right One In to this isolated and modern take on the vampire mythology, exploring a young couple where one of them is affected by a disease which springs to mind that of Dracula’s. The real-world implications have forced them to isolate, but they know that they cannot trust others, and certainly not strangers, so when a newcomer arrives and disturbs their norm Rose: A Love Story catapults into a growing sense of unease that only increases as the film progresses.

The film isn’t original in its execution as it doesn’t really bring anything new to the table, borrowing elements from often superior source material and never really finding its own voice. Sheridan’s direction makes the most out of a tightly-enclosed location however and the dark atmosphere paves way for an exciting backdrop to Rose: A Love Story. Its slow burn structure helps but isn’t without its limitations as the film primarily, focuses its attention on the characters really allowing the individual actors to come into their own. Sophie Rundle of course puts in the best performance here, subtlety coming to light as the film adopts an incredibly nuanced tale which it really benefits from. This extends to the soundtrack, which never feels overbearing and doesn’t detract from the atmosphere that Sheridan created here at all.

The lack of action means that Rose: A Love Story takes its time to get where it iss going and although this aids character it doesn’t really click as a result, because although no action on its own isn’t a bad thing, in fact, it’s a welcome change, but the film doesn’t really do anything with what it provides us with insetad. With all the focus on the chemistry between the two leads and their characters, other elements fall to the wayside a bit and the film as a result only really comes together by the final act when the tension escalates but the film unfortunately goes out too quietly for what it sets up to do, feeling very much like a whimper. If anything – an even tighter runtime would have worked wonders here, as it lacks enough punch to justify even a relatively short 80-odd minute runtime.

There’s enough promise from Sheridan’s debut to make it worth a watch if you’ve got time to kill especially in October, as it fits into a horror-themed challenge quite well. Its lack of a reliance on cheap jump scares also counts massively in its favour, but unfortunately other elements prevent this film from reaching its full potential.

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