Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Pause, Rosie Reviews

It's more than worth noting the litany of symptoms pertaining to the diagnosis of a female patient somewhere in Cyprus, that a seemingly indifferent doctor rattles off to the woman whose presence he barely acknowledges: "Loss of sexual desire, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, memory lapse or loss, mood disorders, fatigue, hair loss, weak nails, night sweats, sleep disorder - with or without night sweats, hypersensitivity, gum disease, mental confusion, lack of concentration, dizziness, urinary incontinence, bloating, weight gain, allergies, body odors, bleeding, depression, anxiety, arrhythmia, headaches, itchy skin, gastro-intestinal disorders, indigestion, stiff muscles, breast pain, joint pain, panic attacks, irregular periods, dry eyes, osteoporosis, emotionalism..."

 And then in abrupt conclusion - "You have nothing to worry about."

I kid you not.

So begins the solemn, somewhat of a living death sentence for obedient, melancholy middle aged housewife Elpida (Stella Fyrogeni), the reluctant, essentially invisible heroine of writer/director Tonia Mishiali’s Pause.  And in a reference to menopause, yet so much more - an affliction as not quite terminal existence, that has been on psychological pause for decades.

Returning home from the clinic to her abusive husband Costas (Andreas Vasileiou), as soulless and dismissive as the doctor, Elpida continues her endless routines of cooking and cleaning, the only grating interruptions the screeching of Costas' pet bird, and the horrid chewing noises when her boorish spouse gobbles up his meals. And with the kitchen her gloomy prison along with Costas denying her financial compensation of any sort save for occasional, essentially meager tips,  the only break in monotony is disturbed sleep interrupted by Costas' grotesque snoring -  or very occasional blunt, wordless sex on demand that is nothing less than domestic rape.

Relief for suppressed passions and frustrations do eventually break free for moments, but Mishiali and her protagonist provide only elusive windows of dramatic conjecture as perhaps it should be, reserving a respectful privacy of thought feeling, fantasy and reality, for a woman who in life has little substance of her own to possess and embrace. And ultimately the most vivid revelation - alerting filmmakers to necessary depictions on screen out there - that yes, being a housewife must be recognized an occupation too, liberated from exploitation and dehumanization.


"We're not homeless, we're just lost." Which happens to be the strongest, yet ironic thematic statement in the film. As a destitute Dublin family with four young children finds themselves somehow living out of their car, when the home they were renting is sold by the owner. 

And what ensues in this harrowing and heartbreaking Paddy Breathnach directed dramatic feature, crafted as a 36 hour desperate quest for temporary housing, is a stinging visceral sense of relentless determination. And confronting an increasingly, seeming hopeless situation. 

This as Rosie (Sarah Greene) repeatedly telephones the same government provided emergency housing numbers for at least a room for the night to crowd in her family of six - and we're standing by alongside her as the troubled, progressively frazzled audience right there every step of the anxiety ridden way. While her spouse John Paul (Moe Dunford) toils as a low wage restaurant dishwasher - and increasingly irritating his boss for understandably erratic attendance. 

Then there is perhaps the most distressing scene, when Rosie is confronted by one emotionally troubled daughter's principal, demanding to know if the family is indeed living out of their car - which Rosie in humiliation denies -  and informing her that the other students are saying her children, with inadequate daily care at this time, 'smell.'

But getting back to the irony of the film itself, unlike Ken Loach's socio-political dramas pursuing similar themes, is a disturbing failure of courage on the part of the filmmakers - and by no means just this movie. 

So often, contemporary films about poverty and homelessness evade the real issues - government indifference under capitalism. With Rosie stubbornly, inexplicably refusing the help of family and friends who offer temporary housing solutions for the family.

And with Rosie, as with those other ethically objectionable and ideologically timid films, a blame the victim personal neurosis or even psychosis is substituted. That is, for principled protest against a cruel, inhumane and intolerable system.

Prairie Miller

No comments:

Post a Comment