Rose Island or Isola delle Rose as it is called in its original Italian form, is one of those movies that makes you wish we were still in the 1960s. I was only twelve when that decade ended so I missed all the fun but apparently the spirit of the 1960s was also alive and well in Italy at that time. They may not have had the Beatles or the Rolling Stones but they had Giorgio Rosa, a complete misfit engineer who had a really crazy idea and then made it happen.
Sadly he died three years ago having given his blessing to the film but before it was actually made and I’m sure he would have loved it. I’m probably going to be saying this every time I recommend a book or a film but try to resist the temptation to google the subject matter. I knew nothing about the story before watching the film and I think it’s much more enjoyable that way.
This is a light-hearted, amusing and whimsical movie that you would dismiss as being a little absurd if it weren’t actually true. Elio Germano plays Giorgio Rosa and is perfect for the role. He’s a very well known and accomplished actor in Italy but probably completely unknown to most people reading this. He’s a bit like Tom Hanks in that he’s so ordinary he’s believable in many different roles.
The actual events in the film were instrumental in changing an important aspect of international law I believe, so people in authority took it quite seriously at the time despite them all being depicted here as comedic bumbling idiots.
And when you read more about the actual story once you've seen the film you realize how accomplished Giorgio Rosa was as an engineer; what he did virtually by himself on a shoestring budget was quite remarkable. What's also interesting is that although this piece of 1960s history is very famous in Rimini where the events took place, just a few miles up the road in Bologna where Matilda De Angelis grew up (she plays the love interest in the film) the story was completely unknown. In a recent interview she said how surprised she was when she was approached for the part because neither she, her parents, family or any of her friends knew anything about the story.
I’ve deliberately avoided saying anything at all about what actually takes place so as not to spoil the enjoyment of watching the film. Find it on Netflix for a pleasurable two hours of entertainment.