Frederikke Äspock gets her feature film debut with the lively romantic drama Rosita.
The film’s main character Johannes, portrayed by Mikkel Boe Følsgaard, is in his late 20’s and still living with his father Ulrik, played by Jens Albinus. They live a quiet and laid-back life in a small town on the Danish West Coast. If you are an ambitious person on the west coast, you get a job in the fishing industry, and it is here the entire family works. After Ulrik’s wife and Johannes mother has passed away, Ulrik mentions that he misses love and a woman by his side. He tells Johannes that he is getting a new girlfriend from the Philippines and she is called Rosita, played by Mercedes Cabral. Johannes is not pleased about the situation and gets embarrassed about his father’s decision.
On the Danish West Coast, you speak Danish and therefore Ulrik does not speak a word of English. He insists that there is no need for him to learn English when Rosita can learn the Danish language instead. The language barrier is a problem for the new relationship and Ulrik withdraws Johannes when he needs help to translate Rosita’s English into Danish. In the beginning he does not want anything to do with his father’s new wife, but after some time he helps her with her everyday routine. Johannes and Rosita even grow strong feelings for each other, because Johannes sees her as a person and understands her wants and needs. Ulrik, however, treats her like a housekeeper and personal robot. This evolves into a remarkable love triangle.
It is a relief to watch this humorous, romantic Danish drama. Over the last couple of years the Danish filmmakers have been playing on the Danish Nordic Noir wave with dark psychological dramas and thrillers. This is a fresh new input to Danish films, where you do not take the “easy path” with social realistic dramas, but challenges everyday romantic aspects in a humorous way. It is harder to succeed with a romantic comedy in Denmark than with a social-realistic film. The writer of the film Kim Fupz Aakezon known for Den eneste ene has done a great job again.
As a Dane from Copenhagen, the west coast is a fascinating place to observe. From an ethnocentric point of view and unfortunately with prejudices, we tend to see the people from the west coast as uneducated, religious fanatics or “small” people. Of course, they are all fishermen that tend to drink too much alcohol during the weekend. These themes have already been dealt with in major films or tv programs like The Fishermen and Klumpfisken. This is of course not always true, but prejudices have of course been taken into consideration when making this film. I cannot say whether the portrayal of the west coast in the film is true or false, but the self-ironic humor works.
The main-character is portrayed trustworthy, intelligent and with lots of potential and with captivating flaws, that makes his personality stronger. His father is portrayed authentic and true to his environment as a fisherman. He stands in great contrast to his son: he has got a more cold personality, he is old-fashioned and does not feel the need for major changes in his life – he is easy to please. Rosita is portrayed wonderfully with a sense of humor, as a person that does not accept racism or rumours towards her, her family or her friends. She is a protector. Like a chameleon she adapts to different situations respectfully and is the only one that knows how to behave properly.
The storyline is witty, intelligent and utterly entertaining. The film brings a big issue up for a debate – how do we treat the Philippines? Can we love them or do we just “buy” them for social company, and what are our expectations from them. It is a pleasure to finally give them life in films and hear their voices as well. From my point of view it is the film of the year. If you do not feel a bit encountered by the prejudgments, then it is a film for everyone.