Rose Island Movie Review: An interesting story that ends in disappointment
This Netflix drama about a micro-nation has a lot going for it but ruins it all with a poor third act
In 1968, an engineer named Giorgio Rosa built an island off the coast of Rimini, Italy and declared it as an independent state. Rose Island was a symbol of freedom that Giorgio felt wasn’t possible in the modern world. The island began attracting huge crowds, and people from across the world revoked their original citizenship to become a Rose Islander. The buzz that the man-made island created did not agree with the State and the Church. What followed led to some of the most crucial moments in the history of Italy and the world.
Director: Sydney Sibilia
Cast: Elio Germano, Matilda De Angelis, Luca Zingaretti, Tom Wlaschiha
Streaming on: Netflix
Rose Island begins as a comical retelling of this story, which centers on the rising conflict between the Italian government and the self-proclaimed heads of the Rose Island. Various subplots like Giorgio’s quest for freedom, his conflicted relationships with his home, love interest Gabriella (Matilda De Angelis), and the society, do aid in driving the story forward. However, the film loses steam around the halfway mark.
The way Giorgio (Elio Germano) blooms as a character keeps the proceedings interesting. Also, the David–Goliath scenario between Rose Island and Italy makes it easy for us to root for Giorgio. Elio's impressive performance almost makes us wish we were citizens of Rose Island too. Apart from his charming and relentless attempts to realise his dream, it is the eccentricity of his character that stands out. Take, for instance, Giorgio’s self-made car and the events that follow. Such details are so brilliantly weaved into the story that it helps us wrap our mind around the freedom he aspires for.
Special mention to actors Leonardo Lidi, Tom Wlaschiha, Violetta Zironi, and Alberto Astorri, who play regular inhabitants of the island (and also the heads of the state). Their introduction scenes garner a few chuckles and their performances pique our interest.
What pulls down these positives is the aimless writing that makes us lose interest in most of the characters. In a film that is based on a true story, it hurts that a few characters, in retrospect, only end up as dead weights. Even the comedy tapers down as the film progresses without any 'wow' factor.
Rose Island is a film that loses it all with a poor third act. When the conflict between the nations reaches a boiling point, it gives you hope at leaving an everlasting footprint, only to take it away instantly with the way it all ends.
In a film like this, one big moment towards the end is what you subconsciously look for. When that eventually happens, even though this is a real-life story, there’s a feeling of something amiss with the screenwriting. Suddenly, the makers want you to feel that Gabriella is as important as the island to Giorgio. Though the film, in retrospect, has justified the final sequence between Gabriella and Giorgio, it feels boring. When the closing shot moves away from the setting, we wish we too had absolute freedom, like Giorgio, but in choosing how such movie experiences end.