Rose: A Love Story Summary and Review

Rose: Sophie Rundle Sam: Matt Stokoe Amber: Olive Gray Director: Jennifer Sheridan Writer: Matt Stokoe Release: 2021

Rose: A Love Story tells the tale of Rose (Sophie Rundle) and Sam (Matt Stokoe) who lead an isolated and challenging, albeit cozy, life in a small cottage in the wilds of a forest in Wales. You could be forgiven for thinking that they have survived some sort of post-apocalyptic event but their living conditions owe more to Rose’s mysterious medical condition than an external event. Rose’s condition is never fully explained but we get a clue as to what it might be very early on when you notice their different dietary requirements.

They have very little contact with the outside world and live off the land with Sam trapping rabbits and growing vegetables while Rose spends her days tapping out a novel on an old-fashioned typewriter. As they move through the timescape of their strange little world, it’s clear that the couple are devoted to each other to the extent that Sam has given up a great deal to be with Rose in these circumstances.

As the narrative unfolds Rose and Sam's structured but fragile existence is interrupted first by Sam’s altercation with a local ne'er-do-well followed by the arrival of a young woman, Amber (Olive Gray) who is trying to escape from her own private hell, which causes catastrophic and unintended consequences for the couple. 

The story is a simple one and explores the lengths to which people will go to protect those they love, with Rose’s condition serving as a device for an extreme circumstance with which to challenge the relationship rather than for the couple to battle their way out of it and cure Rose. But let's not forget that this is a horror film and although this isn’t always in the foreground it’s never far away. The film is atmospheric and mysterious, not terrifying, but disturbing and disconcerting, with the eerie tension projected through sound rather than visuals. 

The acting is superb and Stokoe and Rundle (partners in real life) convincingly portray yin and yang opposites whose relationship survives through negotiation and compromise, demonstrating that it’s hard work but can be done successfully

It's not without flaws and becomes a little muddled with the arrival of Amber and Sam and Rose’s inconsistent interactions with her. And there were a number of unanswered questions; why was Amber in the middle of nowhere, why would Sam’s only contact with the outside world want to con him and, not to be overlooked, where does their money come from? 

Having said this, Rose: A Love Story is one of those hidden gems of a low budget feature that makes the most of limited resources and a minimal cast and, in a short runtime, the director managed to tease out enough character development to keep you engaged. We are never really told why the couple are as they are but perhaps the point of the film is how they deal with it, while keeping their relationship together, and show that no matter how carefully you plan, nothing stays the same.

Rose: A Love Story is a slow-burner that makes you think and makes you feel and die-hard horror purists may not appreciate it, but if you're in the mood for something a bit more thoughtful with a backdrop of horror and a neat little twist, you'll do worse than to watch this.



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