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3.8 out of 5 stars17
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 27 October 2005
My first reaction at the end of this film was that I'd seen something remarkable, and several years later, after some reflection, I still think so.
The story line is very basic; Rosetta, a girl in her late teens, lives with her alcoholic mother in a permanent caravan park outside a largish industrial Belgian town. As her mother is incapable for most of the time, it has fallen on Rosetta to provide for the two of them as best as she can. Rosetta refuses to sink into the same mire as her mother who is still flirting with prostitution as a means of survival, and desperately wants to find a 'normal' job, however mundane, to furnish an existence that most people take for granted. The film centres on Rosetta's brushes with employment and her fury at various bosses who sack her when they find out her background and the domestic scenes with her mother whom she variously cares for, hates and literally picks up from the floor. The only hope is a local young man who develops some sort of feelings for her, though even this is compromised when she betrays him to steal his job.
The directors have used various methods to depict this. There is the strong flavour of independent cinema and repetition techniques - it is a mighty long way from Hollywood; some scenes are reminiscent of French 'relationship' movies like Betty Blue; others recall traditions of British realism; and then there is the hand held camera.
The repetition is not boring, but lyrical; the 'relationship' if it can be called that is extremely tenuous, so that the one time Rosetta smiles it stands out like an explosion; the realism makes some of Ken Loach's work seem more like Emmerdale (a British soap); the hand held camera makes you giddy, but follows Rosetta so closely, so intimately in all her brave gravity, that you sometimes can't bear it. It would be impossible to see this film and not be amazed by the performance of Emilie Dequenne, so convincingly is she inside the skin of her directors' creation.
Don't buy this if you only like conventional cinema, but do buy it if you like a challenge!
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on 21 July 2000
I agree completely with the two reviews I read, by Philip Kemp and John Webber. I think the greatest achievement of the directors, Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardene, is to estblish a subjective point of view, of Rosetta's, and never let go of it from beginning to end. The hand-held camera adds to the frenzied pace of this movie, which works despite the monotony. Part of the reason is Emilie Dequenne's amazing performance. She lives not in quiet, but in furious desperation. The idea is to subject this character to every kind of indignity and setback--to lead her to temptation, but to have her resist and remain steadfast. The movie takes no shortcuts; no sex, no rapes, no violence (expected and received in American movies like Boys Don't Cry). All these perils (easy to put in a contemporary movie) are avoided, and yet the sense of Rosetta's desperation and determination hit the viewer smack in the face. An amazing feat of control by the directors and actors. No sentimental tricks here, but a very real emotion--exilaration at Rosetta's only smile at the end.
santasc@fdn.com
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on 12 July 2009
Another fantastic film from the Dardenne brothers, the winner of the Palme D'Or in 1999. I wouldn't put it in the same category as L'Enfant or Les Silence De Lorna but all the same, a great film. No one does realism quite like the Dardennes in European cinema. At first the film is quite slow but the plot pulls its self together eventually and it shows a fantastic, fulfilling piece of cinema. It felt so realt that at times it was like I was watching a documentary. Another key aspect for me was the absence of any type of soundtrack and although this only served to highlight the reality it still could have maybe done with some music to enhance the emotions a bit more. I think Rosetta's plight is one in which we can identify with but as a viewer I initially felt empathy with Rosetta but I lost this sense of empathy due to the decisions she made. For me, this reduction in empathy made it a great piece of work as it tended to avoid cliche and a usual plot you get in so many films. Fantastic, a very good 65%.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 29 February 2012
The Dardenne brothers have had a lot of success at Cannes which has led to most of their films getting a cinema release in this country, although not Le Silence de Lorna, as far as I'm aware, nor, for the time being, the latest, Le Gamin au velo. They really are wonderful directors and use film with such integrity, being only concerned with essential truths and not compromising their vision in any way to make it more 'entertaining'. I think of them as the inheritors of the Bresson style, there is such a concern with the truths you cannot see, yet the style is rooted in the concrete physical reality of the characters' daily lives. There is no music (except a few bars just at the end of Le Silence de Lorna). I also love the way they focus on people who do not usually get a voice outside of soap operas, but here the tone is very much not that. Rosetta is, in many ways, not particularly likeable, but it is this refusal to sentimentalise her that makes her so challenging. I was really shocked by the way she treats a young man who tries to help her, but the ending manages to leave you with a sense of incredible insight and compassion that the directors bring us to. It is the same in La Promesse, although here the boy is much more sympathetic to start with. His dilemma and moral path couldn't be more movingly shown, and the film also draws attention to the plight of illegal immigrants and the circumstances of their lives. I found the father/son dynamic to be one of the most powerful I have ever seen on screen, which is also due to Olivier Gourmet and the fantastic Jeremie Renier in his first role in a Dardenne film. He has since acted in a number of others, always brilliantly. But this can already be seen in the teenage role he takes on here. The film is phenomenal in its analysis and emotional reach.
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on 6 January 2012
First time i saw this i was a bit underwhelmed. Then i was wowed by The Son and gave Rosetta another go. Better on 2nd watch cus I'm appreciating better the Dardennes deliberate effectless style but still nothing really grabbed me about it.

So this is my 3rd and last go at this film. How I'm watching now has to stand as my final evaluation

Émilie Dequenne won Best Actress at Cannes in 1999. She does a lot of tussling, stomping around, barging about - in perpetual motion - which the hand held camera captures to giddily exhaustive effect.

There's an earnest humourlessnes about her. Mind you, shes got nothing much to smile or sing or dance about. Can't dance, won't dance, don't dance. That dance scene with putative boyfriend is painfully awkward to watch.

Rosetta continues her chasing about. It's like following a feral animal, or a stray dog, having to be on the run the whole time, searching for some secure place to finally be. But not finding anywhere, not getting safe.

The camera is almost like another body. An extension of her body. The handheld camera has become her body.

Here comes a touching moment - her Self Prayer: "Your name is Rosetta, my name is Rosetta, You found a job/I found a job, You've got a friend/I've got a friend, You have a normal life/I have a normal life, You won't fall in the rut/I won't fall in the rut". This splitting of herself into 2 emphasizes how through disassociation she might be able to bear her life better.

It does help to be acquainted with the Dardenne method. Then you drop the need to feel entertained by the film or pleased intellectually by aesthetics or arty cinematography; rather the engagement gets to feel more visceral, an experience of being with what you see as if it were something equivalent to actual life - the life you live, the living - moving, struggling, coping, surviving - you share with Rosetta.

Yes, it's finally got to me this film. I've succumbed to its relentless necessity.
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on 20 July 2000
As I'm writing this before the release of the video, you'll guess that I saw it at the cinema. I went because I knew it had received the Palme D'Or at Cannes, but had no other information on the film at all, so I didn't really know what to expect. My reaction at the end of the film was that I'd seen something remarkable, and 9 months or so later, after some reflection, I still think so. The story line is very basic; Rosetta, a girl in her late teens, lives with her alcoholic mother in a permanent caravan park outside a largish industrial Belgian town. As her mother is incapable for most of the time, it has fallen on Rosetta to provide for the two of them as best as she can. Rosetta refuses to sink into the same mire as her mother who is still flirting with prostitution as a means of survival, and desperately wants to find a 'normal' job, however mundane, to furnish an existence that most people take for granted. The film centres on Rosetta's brushes with employment and her fury at various bosses who sack her when they find out her background and the domestic scenes with her mother whom she variously cares for, hates and literally picks up from the floor. The only hope is a local young man who develops some sort of feelings for her, though even this is compromised when she betrays him to steal his job. The directors have used various methods to depict this. There is the strong flavour of independent cinema and repetition techniques - it is a mighty long way from Hollywood; some scenes are reminiscent of French 'relationship' movies like Betty Blue; others recall traditions of British realism; and then there is the hand held camera. The repetition is not boring, but lyrical; the 'relationship' if it can be called that is extremely tenuous, so that the one time Rosetta smiles it stands out like an explosion; the realism makes some of Ken Loach's work seem more like Emmerdale; the hand held camera makes you giddy, but follows Rosetta so closely, so intimately in all her brave gravity, that you sometimes can't bear it. It would be impossible to see this film and not be amazed by the performance of Emilie Dequenne, so convincingly is she inside the skin of her directors' creation. Don't buy this if you only like conventional cinema, but do buy it if you like a challenge!
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on 23 September 2012
The Dardenne brothers were inspired to make movies by Robert Bresson, the great french film maker, whose influence on the New Wave saw it rise up and abandon the superficiality of Hollywood to investigate instead what it means to be human with as little fuss as possible. 'Rosetta', their first film, is a statement of this - it is pretty much a remake of 'Mouchette'; later, Lenny Abrahamson transplants the movie into Ireland in the equally impressive 'Garage'. The same theme runs in all three movies. They follow the central character, alienated by his/her environment, as they struggle to survive. Meanwhile, the people around them, obsessed by their own vanities and self-interest, fail to see their hand in the protagonist's demise. 'Rosetta' is a magnificent film, beautifully unembellished, but add the other two movies as well for a flawless trilogy that delineates clearly the cruelty and misery man inflicts on man when self-interest overpowers our sense of social responsibility.
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To say that Emilie Dequenne. the young actress playing Rosetta - and who won the Golden Palm at Cannes for her efforts here, is 'plucky', would sound patronising, to say the least.

This is structured documentary film-making at its most urgent - and poignant. The premise for most could hardly be less appealing - an independent film, filmed at a moderately sized Belgian industrial town, with an actress who wears no make-up (yes, the odd pimple, too) has an alcoholic mother who gets more booze by offering herself for sex and they both 'inhabit' a tiny, leaky caravan on a caravan park.

By plucky, I mean that Rosetta is almost always running - from someone, after someone - including her own mother - to a job, from a job. When not doing that, she gets thrown in a lake (by same person as above), catching fish in said very muddy lake, using a broken glass jar. She is always trying to either get work, keep her job or survive, somehow.

This all sounds quite frantic - and it is, when the hand-held camera follows her, is glued to her, almost, as she goes past so close, she briefly goes out of focus. But often, it is meditative, thought-provoking and downright very ordinary. Which, oddly, is extremely compelling, never more so during the gaps in dialogue.

Underneath this hardened facade - she only swears and fights when really pressed, then she's like a terrier dog - we hope to see a normal young lady, who can do things that she enjoys. We only see this once, when the young man at the new waffle-van where she finally gets a casual job, takes her after the first day, back to his, for food and playing of some music.

If this is SO mundanely glum, why am I watching it for the second time? Well, my Halliwells Film Guide (bible, to me) rated it highly and I got a copy cheap as a Korean import and secondly, you just know that there is a message here. Not necessarily a very important one, but one that we need to reminded of, when we all (and our Governments) continually moan about the youth of today and how they never want to work - and about caring for those unable to care for themselves.

It's also very sobering (definitely no pun intended) and one with an ending that you'll remember.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
To say that Emilie Dequenne. the young actress playing Rosetta - and who won the Golden Palm at Cannes for her efforts here, is 'plucky', would sound patronising, to say the least.

This is structured documentary film-making at its most urgent - and poignant. The premise for most could hardly be less appealing - an independent film, filmed at a moderately sized Belgian industrial town, with an actress who wears no make-up (yes, the odd pimple, too) has an alcoholic mother who gets more booze by offering herself for sex and they both 'inhabit' a tiny, leaky caravan on a caravan park.

By plucky, I mean that Rosetta is almost always running - from someone, after someone - including her own mother - to a job, from a job. When not doing that, she gets thrown in a lake (by same person as above), catching fish in said very muddy lake, using a broken glass jar. She is always trying to either get work, keep her job or survive, somehow.

This all sounds quite frantic - and it is, when the hand-held camera follows her, is glued to her, almost, as she goes past so close, she briefly goes out of focus. But often, it is meditative, thought-provoking and downright very ordinary. Which, oddly, is extremely compelling, never more so during the gaps in dialogue.

Underneath this hardened facade - she only swears and fights when really pressed, then she's like a terrier dog - we hope to see a normal young lady, who can do things that she enjoys. We only see this once, when the young man at the new waffle-van where she finally gets a casual job, takes her after the first day, back to his, for food and playing of some music.

If this is SO mundanely glum, why am I watching it for the second time? Well, my Halliwells Film Guide (bible, to me) rated it highly and I got a copy cheap as a Korean import and secondly, you just know that there is a message here. Not necessarily a very important one, but one that we need to reminded of, when we all (and our Governments) continually moan about the youth of today and how they never want to work - and about caring for those unable to care for themselves.

It's also very sobering (definitely no pun intended) and one with an ending that you'll long remember.
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on 10 January 2011
Rosetta picked up top prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1999. Brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne have created a neorealist/documentary set around the bleak circumstances of a seventeen year old girl called Rosetta. It has a close-up style of filming a girl with a desperate lifestyle looking after her alcoholic and depressed mother on a run down trailer park. The film follows the daily life of Rosetta and her determination to find work and lift them out of dire poverty. She spends her day catching fish in the local canal, selling secondhand clothes and hunting factory or catering work in the nearby Belgian town. The film is a captivating and honest insight into a young and emotionally damaged individual struggling to survive in extreme poverty. It is a low budget, harrowing yet profoundly moving drama that leaves you questioning the world we live in. Yet grateful for a narrative and that gives you an honest look at the heart of despair that is all too real on the fringes of our society. Emilie Dequenne has excelled herself in her relentless and energetic portrayal of Rosetta.
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