GFF2021 Review: Rosa’s Wedding

Year: 2021
Duration: 1h 37m
Writer/Director: Icíar Bollaín
Starring: Candela Peña, Sergi López, Nathalie Poza

By Caz Armstrong

Following from her 2018 hit documentary “Yuli”, Spanish director Icíar Bollaín brings us a bright and upbeat comedy full of feel-good moments and sunshine.

Rosa (Candela Peña) is dedicated and dependable. She is relied upon by everyone in her life to always pick up the pieces. She takes care of her brother’s children, her friend’s cat, her father’s medical needs and even her neighbour’s plants. She’s the glue that holds everyone in her life together but gets almost nothing in return.

Feeling empty and unfulfilled she has a sudden need to escape so quits her job and sets off to the small town of her childhood by herself. She hopes to start her own business and a fresh life, set free from fulfilling the needs of others and never her own. The icing on the cake would be to get married… to herself.

Without her around to maintain order everything is thrown into utter chaos. Her family are surprised, to say the least, at this sudden turn. But, in the process of arranging the wedding, inner truths are shaken loose and the family begins to learn how to listen to each other and form new bonds.

Rosa’s life is one that many women would recognise. Constantly at the beck and call of those around her, her worth seems to be derived from what she provides to others. She has been happy to oblige for so long that people no longer bother to ask if she would mind doing a favour. They don’t listen to her when she tries to speak up for herself.

After so many years of looking after others she’s running on empty. She feels like she’s at the bottom of the heap. She’s appreciated for what she provides but not who she is. Rosa learning to stand up for her own needs is the antithesis to many film tropes where people learn to sacrifice their needs for those of others and therein find fulfilment.

The wedding theme also throws other tropes on their head. Consider the importance of declaring that you will forgive yourself, listen to yourself, fulfil your own dreams. It’s a feminist message about throwing off the shackles of other people’s needs and embracing your own.

The strength Bollaín brings to this message is to present it with brightness, warmth and charm. It’s not a sombre lecture, it’s a light-hearted family comedy bathed in Spanish sunshine. All the central performances are genuine and honest so we really believe they all love Rosa and the rest of their family. There’s no malice they just can’t see the effect of their actions.

Even if audiences don’t connect with Rosa’s particular predicament, the film still contains encouragement to really listen to those close to you and to celebrate whatever is important to them.

“Rosa’s Wedding” is joyful and bright with enough comedy to keep it afloat and enough sentimentality to give it meaning. Grab a refreshing sangria and prepare to be both warmed and encouraged. You really are worth it.

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