Rose Island is an interesting little slice of filmmaking, blending the usual themes of privacy, identity, and surveillance with a fresh approach that very few movies try. Shot on location in the rural South Carolina hamlet of Isle of Palms, this movie follows the everyday life of 20-year-old David (Dees Rees), who moves to the small town with his mother and brother when he was seven. The arrival of his older sister, Ariel (Haylie Duff), heralds the start of a new chapter in their family life, but David is torn between accepting his destiny in society as a family man and his desire to pursue his own dreams. As summer rolls on and the townspeople bicker over David's sexuality, he wants to pursue his true path...
As the title suggests, Rose Island tells its story through the eyes of its protagonist, a real life search and rescue engineer from Los Angeles who have just gotten out of a very bad experience in Hawaii. As you would expect, much of the film is spent in and around the sleepy town of Rose Island, a place that exists mostly in the memories of its citizens. The search for the father of David takes place primarily through the eyes and ears of the town's sole resident, Officer Joe Caputo (Daryl Hannah). As the name of the movie implies, caputo is a Rose Island local and the closest thing to a town cop.
However, the search for the father of David takes an odd twist when David runs into an FBI agent in Hawaii who asks him to go on a full-fledged investigation into the suspicious activities of his family. With a strong sense of duty and patriotism, the reluctant young man agrees - but only if he can remain free to spend the time he needs on the island. The movie takes a subtle approach to the plot, building its tale over several days rather than forcing it to unfold in a single afternoon. This deliberate lack of development leaves the viewer eager to see how David gets out of the island and why he feels the need to cooperate with the authorities. In fact, the whole reason for the investigation into the island comes in the form of a dream sequence, one that lingers in the mind long after the credits roll
Much of the movie's appeal lies in the performances of both Caputo and Hannah. Caputo is quite simply great as the stoic, yet humane character of Rose Island. His German accent is perfect for this role as are his expressions of pain and discomfort as David struggles to uncover the identity of the mysterious figure on the Island. Hannah, meanwhile, is entirely convincing as the clueless David. Her simple words and expressions capture the character's feeling of confusion and lack of confidence in regards to his true identity and the reasons for leaving Hawaii. Combined with some excellent music, the movie definitely brings a welcomed change to the otherwise generic genre of Italian movies.
Overall, the movie was a hit with the international audience. Not only is the story good but the way in which it was depicted was also very accurate to the original story. The message was clear: although Rose Island may not be a true story, its message was very true to the general public's view on Italy and the Italian authorities' response to the crisis on rose island. This makes the film a fun watch for anyone who has been to Italy or is currently taking vacations there.
Overall, Rose Island is well worth your time for those looking for a good, true story about the real Italy. Although the film failed at the box office, it makes up for that with excellent acting, music, and more importantly, the message that the movie tries to deliver. This is an enjoyable and educational movie that gives a glimpse into the inner workings of an Italian island resort and what people are going through to get their economy back on track. I recommend this new film to anyone who hasn't seen it and would love to know what the fuss is all about.