“I can’t help thinking that somehow, if you had managed to hold on to me, I’d be living a different life right now. I’d be this other person, perhaps the person I was really meant to be. The real me.”


Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor’s suspenseful Irish drama is a wonderfully-acted slow burn, despite its wafer-thin plot. Ann Skelly is earnest and unpredictable as an adopted young woman in a crisis of identity who seeks out her birth mother, which forces old secrets to light. The title refers to Rose taking on the fictional role of the name on her birth certificate when she subsequently meets her father. The setup is ripe for exploration of identity though Rose Plays Julie engages with that subject matter less than one might hope, instead playing up the tension in Rose’s subterfuge which is effective but less interesting. The dialogue seems deliberately stilted as these are characters who do not give voice to their emotions, instead seeking cathartic relief after the fact. We watch through a camera that feels coldly distant, the cinematography rarely allowing warmth into its colour palette, and frequently using stark vertical lines to divide characters. Aidan Gillen is ever the rogue, charming with a believably dark streak that leaves little room for sympathy. However, as Rose Plays Julie shifts gears into revenge fantasy, it becomes uncomfortable ⁠— too grounded in reality rather than stylised, particularly when the intention behind the violence is unclear.