Star Rating:


Directors: Joe Lawlor, Christine Molloy

Actors: Imogen Poots, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Lewis Brophy

Release Date: Friday 22nd March 2024

Genre(s): Drama, Thriller

Running time: 97 minutes

Rose Dugdale (Imogen Poots), born into a privileged English family, leads a brazen assault on the home of Sir Alfred Beit (John Kavanagh), a former politician and art collector who lives in Russborough House in Wicklow. Together with fellow members (Tom Vaughn-Lawlor, Lewis Brophy) of an IRA Active Service Unit, Rose steals an assortment of paintings and holes up in a remote cottage as a national manhunt gets underway...

For much of 'Baltimore', there's a real sense of unease and a claustrophobic atmosphere that has nothing to do with the small house where a majority of the psychological action takes place. The story swings back and forth from past to present, yet Imogen Poots' portrayal of Rose Dugdale is kept in sharp relief and allows us to trace the eventual rise of a violent revolutionary from the most unlikely of places. As well as this, the tense nature of both the heist and the aftermath allows for a rich and textured performance to come forth.

'Baltimore' is less concerned with the logistics of how the first Beit art robbery - Russborough House was robbed a total of four times - but nevertheless uses it to highlight the violence and the terror at the end of the rhetoric that encircles the characters. The script takes in Rose's early life as an English debutante, through to her time in Oxford, and onward to her recruitment into the IRA and her utter determination throughout. 'Baltimore' makes a deliberate attempt not to rationalise Rose's violence, but to present the mind and psychology of how someone comes to it. Poots plays Dugdale as someone who has an endless rage inside of her, be it against the privilege she was born into, the system that protects her against her will, or the injustices that keeps it all in place.

Ultimately, however, the rage and the revolution eventually becomes neutered and impotent - and subsequently leaves 'Baltimore' in a somewhat frustrating place. It's difficult to know whether writer-directors Joe Lawlor and Christine Molloy are making this point, that all of Rose's rage eventually comes to naught, or if it's merely a by-product of recounting the story as it happened. Whatever the case may be, 'Baltimore' is a deeply nuanced and richly complex story that offers no easy answers and makes no judgments of its central character.