We’ve seen films where the protagonist receives life-altering news that changes the course of a story.
We have yet to see one where that news leads the protagonist on a journey through the Midwest via mobile wheelchair. In Being Rose, we follow Rose Jones (Cybill Shepherd), a tough, former cop who carries a loaded gun in her purse. Rose is diagnosed with a disease that gradually inhibits her ability to move. Yet she still chooses to go on a journey that further changes the course of her life.
Even though Rose is a recent widow with a life-threatening disease, she leaver her home with the intention to visit places she never had before. On her road trip, Rose meets Lily (Pam Grier) who adds some light-hearted comic relief and become a close friend. It becomes evident that Rose is still open to letting new people in her life even under the circumstances.
At the height of her long road trip, Rose encounters a cowboy named Max (James Brolin). Though she tries to evade his advances, she runs into him again. It leads to a fast-moving friendship turned romance. We later learn that Rose made this trip to see her estranged son. However, that plan is put on hold when she moves in temporarily with Max. Rose discovers love again after losing her husband and becoming sick. The more time she spends with Max, the more we see a softer and more vulnerable side of her. Max accepts her wholeheartedly, fully accommodates her needs, and makes it clear that he is seeking a long-term relationship. Watching Rose and Max create a home together is refreshing. It’s not often that we see films that solely focus romance between older adults.
Though she tries to save Max from being impacted by her sickness—in the end, he cares deeply for her and wants her to stay with him. It reminds us of the impact we have on people’s lives—even if we believe some encounters are insignificant.
Rose and Max’s relationship exists with more complications aside from Rose’s illness. Max’s teenage daughter is not open to Rose being present in her father’s life. This seems to be the reason why Rose choses to leave Max’s home sooner than he expected. This reasoning, however, doesn’t stand on its own feet. It’s possible to read this as a safe explanation, a way to let Max down nicely—her sickness still loomed and wasn’t getting any better. A former cop and a mother, Rose’s instinct to protect others seems to be at play here.
Another layer of Rose’s journey exists in her quest to find her son, Will (Erik Fellows), who we find out struggles with drug use. We also find out that Will has also been holding a grudge against Rose which continues to strain their relationship. Then he finds out that Rose is sick. While her health continues to decline, she tries to salvage her relationship with her son, while she still can. On the other hand, she works harder and harder to push Max away, though he remains persistent. It’s painful to watch the couple, who were able to find love in each other remain stuck behind the obstacle of Rose’s sickness.
While the story, on the surface, may seem to be a standard love story, Rose’s development adds an extra layer. While Rose is an older woman, once married with an adult child, many may jump to the conclusion that she no longer has room to grow. Though Rose may be physically weak, she shows determination, perseverance and bravery—signs of strength. Being Rose reminds us that part of being human is continuing to learn new things about yourself and the world around you—no matter how long you’ve lived.
If you enjoy classic romance movies, with a kick-ass female protagonist, check out Being Rose available January 4, 2019.