ROSE ISLAND (2020) Reviews: Italian comedy-drama new on Netflix

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Rose Island is a 2020 Italian comedy-drama film about an idealistic engineer who builds his own platform ‘island’ off the Italian coast. He promptly declares his construction a new nation, drawing the world’s attention. Values are tested when the Italian government intervenes…

Directed by Sydney Sibilia (I Can Quit Whenever I Want aka Smetto quando voglio) from a screenplay co-written with Francesca Manieri, based on the true story of engineer Giorgio Rosa. The movie stars Elio Germano, Fabrizio Bentivoglio, Tom Wlaschiha, Luca Zingaretti, François Cluzet, Matilda De Angelis and Ascanio Balbo.


In 1967, Italian engineer Giorgio Rosa funded the construction of a 400-square-metre platform in the Adriatic Sea, eleven kilometres off the coast of the province of Rimini, Italy. He furnished it with a number of commercial establishments, including a restaurant, bar, nightclub, souvenir shop and a post office. The platform declared independence on 24th June 1968, under the Esperanto name “Insulo de la Rozoj”, with Rosa as self-declared President.

Rosa’s actions were viewed by the Italian government as a ploy to raise money from tourists whilst avoiding tax. Soon after, a group of four carabinieri and Guardia di Finanza officers landed on the platform and assumed control.

The platform’s Council of Government apparently sent a telegram protesting against the “violation of its sovereignty and the injury inflicted on local tourism by the military occupation”. On 13th February 1969, the Italian Navy used explosives to destroy the ‘island’.


” …the film has nothing to say about rebellion or even about what drives Rosa for that matter, wrapping the story up into a bogus romance as he quixotically attempts to win back the girl. Archive footage of students on the streets in Paris is as close as you’ll get to the spirit of the 60s.” The Guardian

“Jumping back and forth in time until events catch up to this framing device, Rose Island is a breezily entertaining watch throughout. Production values, perhaps due to Netflix’s backing, are particularly strong, with the recreation of the island – shot in an infinity pool in Malta in much shallower water – a genuinely impressive feat of design and engineering.” Little White Lies

“At two hours, Rose Island is a little long for this light premise; it has a clear overarching goal in mind but treads water before it achieves it […] You do get the sense, though, that Rose Island isn’t intended to be deep or revelatory or anything else beyond superficially entertaining and lightly inspiring. It’s a classic underdog story that insists, and in some ways proves, that all you really need in life is the will to make a difference and the stubbornness to not be told no.” Ready Steady Cut!

” …the thing that stood out for me the most here is the poor use of visual effects. It happens throughout the film creating scenes that fall into this uncanny valley feeling. I think part of what makes it stand out is the lighting does not match what it would be in reality, and you can tell […] there are a lot of rough edges with this film, but overall I found it engaging. However, if visuals are a considerable concern for you, you will likely find this difficult viewing.”  TL; DR Reviews


Netflix will stream Rose Island worldwide on December 9th 2020.

Original title:

L’incredibile storia dell’isola delle rose

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