9-year-old Rosie (Savannah Vandendriessche) along with her mum Lilly (Ruth Beeckmans) move into a low-income rental tower at the opening of the film. The are greeted by the buildings Super Mr. Tax (Damiaan De Schrijver) a secret tap dancer warns them to stay away from the lowlifes on the 10th floor Rosie has a prized possession a snow globe from "Katapulco"given to her by her dad who is "out of town." Here we get our first fantasy sequence where the globe comes to life with Papa (Titus de Voogt) occupying it playing guitar.
Director Dorothee van den Berghe adapts the story from Michael De Cock and Judith Vanistendael children's books. On first impression, one would expect that Rosie and her mom Lilly are out of their element in a housing building with new Belgian immigrants. But they are the ones with checkered family relations both sorting out their bond with Papa. The pair adapt to their environment with Rosie becoming fast friend with Moussa (Imad Borji) one of the lowlifes from the tenth floor and mom with Uncle Ibrahim (Mourad Zeguendi) one of Moussa's relatives without papers.
A major subplot is Moussa's goal to be a train pilot as he calls it. He has a spot near the tracks where he goes to watch the commuter trains pass. As the trains rush through it's hard not to believe that this favourite hangout literally shows that the protagonists are living on the wrong side of the tracks. He brings Rosie there enforcing his dream that he will pilot one of the trains when he grows up. Rosie hopes with her volatile homelike that she could get on one of the trains to take her to the other side of the world. The other is Papa's attempt to rejoin his wife and daughter after he returns. He can see that Lilly has moved on and that it may be best for all if he takes a step away for awhile.
Rosie & Moussa is another film in a line from this year's TIFF Kids that teach do not judge by first impressions. Lowlife Moussa has a clear career path, is very supportive of Rosie at key times and is willing to contribute to the school play even if he does not like his part. Rosie's time is half spent in fantasy as she creates an internal world to escape the harsh facts of her reality. Cinematographer Jan Vancaillie and Art director Gert Stas bring to life the fantasy sequences that will delight the grade 4-7 target range for this film. The original nature of the subject matter will no doubt draw in some more.
*** Out of 4.
Rosie and Moussa | Dorothee Van Den Berghe | Belgium | 2018 | 90 Minutes
Tags: Trains, Acapulco, Molenbeek, New Kid, Peer Pressure, School Play, Chop Shop, Caterpillar, Titus, Oysters, Lemonade, Rapping, Visitation, Football, Snow Globe.