A reluctant aunt has no choice but to take in her orphaned Indigenous niece in ROSIE, a moving tale set during Montréal in the 1980s.
Frédérique (Mélanie Bray), aka Fred, takes in Rosie (Keris Hope Hill) after the death of her adoptive sister. This film is set in 1984 but it also speaks to a broken system. Fred is in no position to take in a child. She has no job and is on the verge of losing her home. While she is an artist and creates her work from trash, it’s not bringing in the money to keep a roof over her head. Never mind the differences between the two–Rosie speaks English while Fred speaks French. However, Fred knows from her own experiences just how bad it can be with the foster care system. Her financial issues certainly don’t help the situation–they find themselves sleeping in a scrapyard before too long. It’s only going to get worse before it gets better!
If Fred is going to have Rosie in her life, it means introducing her to both Flo (Constant Bernard) and Mo (Alex Trahan). When Flo’s mother dies, her father insists that they go to the funeral dressed as a man. Lo and behold, Flo and company go to the funeral dressed to the nines. The production notes use both she/her pronouns when discussing Flo and Mo in the film. Should they have cast transgender woman in these roles? I’m not quite sure since the synopsis refers to the characters as being “gender-bending.” Anyway, Rosie, Fred, Flo, and Mo have really become a chosen family by the end of the movie.
The follow statement comes from Gail Maurice via the film’s publicists:
Flo is written from an Indigenous perspective. We have no gender in my Cree/Michif.In Cree/Michif, we don’t use pronouns. Flo is simply Flo, a spirit/human who happens to wear women’s clothes.I’ve spent over a year trying to define Flo & Mo for people/funders/broadcasters, etc, until I came to the realization that they were written from an Indigenous perspective and we don’t have those definitions. They are none of them. They are simply Flo & Mo, who don’t fit in a neat box for the Western way of thinking.
Writer-director Gail Maurice draws on her personal experience in telling this story. What she does here is tell a story about identity and acceptance. It might not be the route that a majority of filmmakers would take but not every film necessarily needs to be conventional. But still, these are stories that need to be told. ROSIE is a film that focuses on a chosen family and their making the best of the situation at hand.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Gail Maurice
CAST: Mélanie Bray, Keris Hope Hill, Constant Bernard, Alex Trahan, Josée Young, Brandon Oakes, Jocelyne Zucco, Arlen Aguayo Stewart
ROSIE holds its world premiere during the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival in the Discovery program. Grade: 3.5/5
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