He leaves their darkened home to hunt the woods, stepping softly through the snow to check the rabbit snares while she remains in bed, dreaming of predators and prey. Sam and Rose, husband and wife, they live in isolation, he the self-appointed guardian who dotes upon her and ensures she is kept safe and undisturbed.
Sat at the kitchen table with her portable typewriter, she hunts for words even as he hunts for food to complement the sparse offerings of the vegetable patch, the only blemish in their self-sufficiency their monthly delivery of petrol to run the generator, until the arrival of Amber, stumbling through the dark into Sam’s trap and breaking her leg, a disruption in their carefully arranged seclusion.
With its world premiere at the BFI London Film Festival, Rose – A Love Story is the feature debut of director Jennifer Sheridan, written by Matt Stokoe who also plays Sam, while Sophie Rundle and Olive Gray are Rose and Amber, one of whom he has built every facet of his life around and the other the random element of chaos come to shatter it.
Shot overwinter in the forests of Abergwesyn in central Wales, the trees strung with totems of wind chimes and reflective objects, the domestic arrangement of Rose and Sam may at first seem only unusual but their patience and gentle support of each other masks a deeper secret, unspoken of but guiding their every decision and action.
Rose nor Sam are far from perfect but their devotion is genuine and when mistakes are made their apologies are immediate and honest, an almost-stable microcosm whose collapse is precipitated by Amber, unable to moderate her behaviour even though entirely beholden to those who have taken her in out of a sense of obligation despite their misgivings.
Spending the best part of an hour dancing around the clues it has laid, Rose – A Love Story is a slow-motion tragedy built around the performances of Stokoe and Rundle, the pacing leeching away any sense of urgency, leaving only the sombre examination of illness, commitment and sacrifice amidst the lonely beauty of the hills.