Rose: A Love Story
Online on BFI Player from 13th October 2020 8.30pm until 16th October 2020 8.30pm
English filmmaker Jennifer Sheridan’s debut Rose: A Love Story centres around lovestruck couple Sam (Matt Stockoe, Netflix’s Cursed) and Rose (Peaky Blinders‘s Sophie Rundle), who’ve hidden themselves from society. Living in the woods on the outskirts of a quiet town, Rose spends her days writing a manuscript while Sam makes it his responsibility to look after them, tending his wife’s mysterious illness – which requires staying out of sunlight and regularly feeding on blood (no prizes for guessing what it is).
One night, however, the couple find themselves taking care of a young runaway (Olive Gray) after she inadvertently injures herself in one of Matt’s traps. With a new threat to their seclusion, the pair are at odds about how to handle the situation. While this sounds like an interesting premise with lots of room to explore a nuanced take on the vampire formula, the action doesn’t kick in until the final 20 minutes, which makes for a disappointingly underwhelming experience.
Sheridan holds her cards close to her chest: we don’t know anything about the couple or why they live the way we do. We watch as Sam attaches leeches to his leg and Rose wears a protective mask as a precaution. It doesn’t take viewers too long to suss out what’s happening, but the director does a solid job of reeling us into the dark, secluded world she’s created, drip-feeding clues to keep us engaged.
Spectacular performances and chemistry between Stockoe and Rundle hold the whole together, with many touching moments and Rundle’s Rose the most wholesome vampire ever to have appeared on screen. But no matter how endearing the relationship, there is only so much of the same back-and-forth we can watch before even the performances become one-note.
Events do pick up towards the end with the arrival of the young woman and her increasing suspicion. At this point the horror elements start to seep in, but before the effect can escalate, things end as abruptly as they started, with almost comic effect.
Despite phenomenal performances from its cast, Rose is a interesting premise wasted on a script with far too much build-up and very little payoff.
Rose: A Love Story is released in select cinemas on 13th October 2020.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2020 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for Rose: A Love Story here: