The feature debut from commercials director Steve Reeves and produced by Isabelle Georgeaux and Richard Holmes – the pair behind Amit Gupta’s Resistance (2011) -Keeping Rosy (2014) is a compact and modest low budget drama that nevertheless showcases the clear talent of its first-time helmer.
Maxine Peake, last seen in cinemas with Steph Green’s superior Run & Jump (2013), stars as a hard-nosed careerist forced to embrace her maternal side after a tragic altercation involving her Eastern European cleaner. Though largely unremarkable, solid performances from Peake and Christine Bottomley (The Arbor) as her straight-talking sister help to lift the occasionally uninspiring material.
Peake plays Charlotte, an affluent singleton who lives alone in her luxury London apartment. We’re first introduced to our protagonist as she gets ready for work in an unnervingly clinical style not dissimilar to that of American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman. At the office there’s an uncomfortable reunion with a female colleague who has recently giving birth, the two women clearly on opposing sides of the work/life divide. That is until Charlotte is unceremoniously dumped out of the company, denied a place on the board of the media agency she helped to build. Visibly shaken, she stumbles home to find her maid Mykala (Elisa Lasowski) puffing away on a cigarette whilst hoovering. As the fired becomes the firer, an altercation between Charlotte and Mykala will irrevocably alter the lives of both women forever.
Though hardly a flattering portrayal of 21st century womanhood, it’s once again easy to see why the icy Peake made such a convincing Myra Hindley in TV miniseries See No Evil: The Moors Murders. Remorselessly cold to friends and family from the outset, it’s only after one fateful lapse of judgement that Charlotte begins to gradually resemble a human being, with all the fragility and nagging self-doubt that entails. Without wanting to reveal too much of the one major plot twist which comes relatively early on, Charlotte finds herself having to look after a young infant that isn’t her own.
Ill-advised attempts made to feed the child such middle-class delights as Ryvita and sushi certainly raise a wry smile (as does a villainous turn from Blake Harrison), but as things become more desperate and our opinion of Peake’s former go-getter softens, much of the dramatic tension is rinsed out of the film. Unwisely marketed as a psychological thriller, Keeping Rosy is a perfectly serviceable TV drama that does, unfortunately, feel somewhat out of place on the big screen.