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on 31 March 2017
The two films of “Rosetta” and “La Promesse” being in this DVD package together could be quite deliberate. “Rosetta” was the next feature film that the Dardenne brother’s directed after “La Promesse”, and that alone could be enough reason for the two films to be presented in this DVD package together, but there are connections to some extent between the two films – with wanting to make one’s lot in life better and one’s self respect better and of what the reality of that is for some, and there are other aspects or topics in both films that are also covered.

In “La Promesse” (1999) there are strong performances from the cast and especially Jérémie Renier and Olivier Gourmet, and as with other films that Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne have written and directed there is a good story with a well-told narrative. “La Promesse” covers a number of issues including amongst them is whether someone’s moral conscience can be pricked and done so enough for the person to change. A bleak film but one that is compelling viewing.

In “Rosetta” (1999) we are presented with an insight into the life of the main character of Rosetta. And it’s not a great life that we are shown. Whether there was deliberate reference to “La Promesse” and the life that some characters in that film were hoping for – and the reality of life for at least one person already here, I am not sure but it is an interesting connection.

Émilie Dequenne’s performance is superb as the eponymous character and her award for Best Actress at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival is not in the least bit surprising to me, nor is it surprising that “Rosetta” unanimously won the Palme d’Or also at Cannes that year. The camera follows Rosetta relentlessly as she aggressively peruses her goal (a better life/self-respect) and that camera doesn’t let up. It is an intense performance and an intense and bleak film, but is well worth viewing.

The stories that Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne come up with although are often simple, they are really very, very good, and the way that they give their stories the narrative they do with their direction works brilliantly. In the extra features Émilie Dequenne says of the two brothers “They are geniuses” and I agree with her comment!

On the two DVD’s you get:

DVD (“La Promesse”)
“La Promesse” (1 hour 30 minutes)
Audio: French, Italian
Subtitles: Dutch, Italian, English, On/Off
Trailer
Filmography of Jérémie Renier
Filmography of Olivier Gourmet
Filmography of the Dardenne brothers
Picture Gallery

DVD (“Rosetta”)
“Rosetta” (1 hour 30 minutes)
Scene Selection
Audio: French, Italian
Subtitles: Dutch, Italian, English, On/Off
Actors Biographies: Émilie Dequenne , Fabrizio Rongione, Olivier Gourmet, Anne Yernaux
Directors Biographies and Filmographies: Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne
Les Films du Fleuve (Company set up by the two brothers)
Special Features:
Trailer
Interviews with Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne (covering both films in the DVD package)
Photo Gallery
Cannes
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on 28 May 2017
The sign of a good film is one you keep thinking about in the days after you've seen it, Rosetta did that to me.
Rosetta is a young girl alone up against the world. Living in poverty with her alcoholic mother she struggles to tie down the job she needs to improve her circumstances. In the final closing scene I just wanted to give Rosetta a big hug.
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on 21 June 2015
I've send the DVD back immediately, because there where no English subtitles, only the original version, which makes no sense for me.
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on 26 December 2013
One would expect a dvd being sold on a British website either to have English subtitles or to have sufficient warning that it doesn't. This purchase has been a complete waste of my money because the price of the postage is greater than the DVD itself. I hope that UK Amazon looks into this to ensure in future that sellers provide sufficient information in an easily accessible way.
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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 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 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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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 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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