Updated: Dec 13, 2020
Giorgio Rosa, an Italian engineer determined to live by his own rules, on his terms created his micronation in 1968. Insane, I know, but the true story behind the founding of the Republic of Rose Island is the basis behind Netflix's Rose Island.
Netflix takes Giorgio Rosa's story and turns it into a lighthearted comedy that honors the efforts of the man. Little is known about the reason the real-life Rosa created the micronation, but the reason the movie gives us is simple. The Giorgio Rosa in the movie is the classical comedic man-child/screwup that Adam Sandler's popularized.
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The film presents the creation of Rose Island as a crazy idea Rosa realizes on a whim because nothing in his life is going right for Rosa. Unfortunately, this becomes a sad metaphor for the entirety of Rose Island. Rose Island has an interesting premise and tries a lot of different things, but they all fall short and feel half-hearted.
Cast and Characters
The cast of the film does a good job. I know, not incredibly interesting criticism, but the cast is far from the biggest issue with Rose Island. I think the cast should be commended for turning in the performances they did with the script they had to work with. Elio Germano puts his all into a heartwarming portrayal of Giorgio Rosa but it's not enough to save this movie. You can tell, especially in the comedic scenes, that the cast was trying to make a good movie, but unfortunately, they couldn't overcome the weight of a subpar execution.
A big issue with Rose Island's script is that the characters don't feel like characters but like props. Characters do and say things that feel anything but natural for no other reason than the advancement of the plot. The most egregious example of this in Rose Island is Rosa's ex-girlfriend and the film's main love interest, Gabriella.
She is a character with no last name, who is both central and inconsequential to the plot. Her only purpose is to leave Giorgio Rosa setting up his motivation to create Rose Island. Though with everything else going wrong in Rosa's life, Gabriella's role could have been replaced by anything else and it wouldn't have changed the plot in the slightest. If characters don't matter, they should be made to, or not included at all.
The most positive thing I can say about this story is that it is an affectionate ode to the real Rose Island and Giorgio Rosa himself. Rosa doesn't come off as anything but an eccentric man-child that is legitimately trying to do better. The partying and the profiteering from the creation of his micronation all seem to be happenstance. Though it doesn't feel honest, this is not a biopic, so it doesn't need to be. Rose Island succeeds in paying homage to one of the most interesting stories of the twentieth century.
Unfortunately, that's about all the positive that I can point to in an unfunny comedy that feels pretty shallow. The film has an interesting concept that will keep your attention throughout. Though, as you're watching the film there won't be many laughs and the story is something you've seen a hundred times over in almost any Adam Sandler or Will Ferrell movie. So, what do you have left when watching a comedy without much comedy? You have an unoriginal movie that's nothing less than boring.
The man-child tries something crazy and even though the crazy thing doesn't work out, the man-child learns something and gets the girl. Rose Island has nothing original to offer and doesn't make any effort to do anything original. The film does attempt to comment on rebellion and freedom, but they came across as shallow and not well thought out. Nothing more than shallow attempts to add more to a script that is mildly entertaining at best.
Should You Watch It? - Probably not
The short answer to that question is no. If you're someone who is looking for a light, inoffensive foreign language (if you're not Italian) film to watch then go for it. Though, you can get the same thing from watching almost any Adam Sandler or Will Ferrell movie. A movie from one of those two actors will probably be funnier than Rose Island and you won't have to deal with any awkward dubbing.
So, I'll correct myself. Unless you're that interested in Giorgio Rosa's story of the Republic of Rose Island and don't have access to any news archives or Wikipedia, then I'd skip Rose Island.
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