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Customer Review

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughts on Rosetta, 27 Oct. 2005
This review is from: Rosetta/La Promesse [DVD] [2000] (DVD)
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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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 10 Aug 2014 14:31:01 BDT
Old Flozer says:
Agreed. In the interview that is included as a bonus on some DVDs, the directors comment that the camerawork was intended to have the viewer 'follow' Rosetta as literally as possible. I found it bleak but intensely gripping. I discovered this having enjoyed Emilie Dequenne in a more lighthearted piece 'The life of an artist', and in Rosetta she is breathtaking. There are points of comparison with Winter's Bone and Fish Tank, which are also highly recommended.
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Location: Ware, Herts United Kingdom

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