Review by Jacquelin Hipes
Shooting a film in low light and tossing a couple of nude scenes in does not automatically transform it into noir. Jess Bond’s writing and directing debut relies on all the ingredients of its predecessors without really understanding their function and importance within a story. What results is a tepid imitation, neither funny enough to classify as a parody nor cutting enough to join the genre on its own merits.
Rosy (Stacy Martin) is a struggling actress with a habit of dating men inclined to give her gifts and cash as thanks for her company. What she isn’t, however, is a prostitute. In Rosy’s own words, she dates and sleeps with whomever she wants; the financial aspect is immaterial and a mere coincidence. That arrangement undergoes a swift reversal when she’s abducted by Doug (Nat Wolff), a young man left to his own devices after his grandmother’s hospitalization. Like Rosy he hasn’t quite achieved his life’s goals, a waiter who aspires to one day become a chef…and Rosy’s boyfriend. Convinced that the two belong together, he handcuffs her in his basement and begins a most non-traditional courtship, while Rosy must do what it takes to survive.
You keep waiting for a twist to make things intriguing but—spoiler alert—it never comes. Rosy isn’t a slow burn. It’s just slow. The narrative cuts back and forth between Rosy’s current imprisonment and her previous relationship with a film industry insider (Johnny Knoxville), an endeavor only slightly more successful than the one with Doug. These time jumps never reveal hidden depths to the main players, or even a mildly engaging twist. Events unfold exactly as expected and even then, the characters are too thinly sketched out for one to fret over their fates.
Martin and Wolff play off one another well and hit their comedic beats, although the humor itself leaves something to be desired. Tony Shalhoub makes an appearance as an unbelievably obliging doctor, though he doesn’t stick around long enough to make much of an impact.
Rosy could have been interesting, by virtue of the fact that noir is an inherently interesting genre. Cobbling together all of the aesthetic trappings isn’t enough to reap the rewards, though, as this particular attempt demonstrates. Without charismatic leads or compelling stakes the entire artifice falls flat in an unfortunate example of style failing to compensate for substance.
Coming to EST and VOD on July 17th.
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