When Catharsis Doesn’t Cut It | Features

With this recreation of PTSD comes the extremely graphic revenge Miriam enacts on Dylan, which is filmed in a wide shot. The camera is placed at a distance from the violence, but also makes sure to capture every cut and every moment; the viewer must experience every agonizing moment of this process. The camera never looks away, either, providing an unflinching scene of the steps it takes to dismember a man, from draining his blood to boiling his bones. There is not a quick one-and-down gunshot or a swift castration. Instead, Sims-Fewer and Mancinelli want the viewer to confront this reality of murder and what it means to not only commit the act, but to clean it up to protect yourself. 

While a majority of rape-revenge films are told through the lens of a survivor confronting their rapist, Joe Lawlor and Christine Malloy’s “Rose Plays Julie” is a rare movie that examines rape from the perspective of a child who was a product of such trauma. Rose (Ann Skelly) is a veterinary student who feels like she has no anchor for her identity after she discovers she was adopted. But when she finds her birth mother, Ellen (Orla Brady), they both must confront a violent past. Rose’s father raped Ellen, and in trying to bury her pain, Ellen put Rose up for adoption. In removing Rose from her life, Ellen thought she could then remove this part of her past. But, of course, trauma cannot just be brushed under the rug.

“Rose Plays Julie” is about both rape-revenge and multigenerational trauma, as Ellen and Rose work together to navigate how their relationship and identities are defined by violence. Trauma is compounded by the grief of lost potential and love, as Rose mourns a mother that could have been and Ellen mourns her life before the trauma and the loss of a daughter. There is no apology that can bring about an emotional reunion filled with hugs and making up for lost time. Instead, they begin an uneasy alliance as Rose tries to meet her father and help get justice for his actions all those years ago.

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