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Rainer Werner Fassbinder
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Bette Midler plays The Rose, a female rock star strikingly similar to Janis Joplin. The film follows Rose's career during her last tour, as she's determined to return to her Florida hometown. Although a success, she's exhausted and lonely but continued working by her gruff and greedy manager. Through loud and brassy, Rose is an insecure alcoholic and former drug user who seems to crave approval in her life. She begins a romance with a limousine driver, who's actually an AWOL sergeant from the United States Army. Her rock and roll lifestyle of Drugs, Sex, and Rock and Roll and constant touring lead her to an inevitable breakdown. Written by
R. John Berggren <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In THE ROSE, Bette Midler plays a character based on the life of Janis Joplin. This one of those rare movies where everything works perfectly. Although she is amazingly talented, I sometimes wonder if Bette herself ever looks back on this movie and wonders how she managed such an amazing portrayal, in the same way that an Olympic skater reviews the footage of a 10.0 performance and is stunned that every blade stroke really is picture perfect.
While the storyline is memorable, and the acting superb, music outshines everything else. This is a movie from 1979, a time when rock and roll was still considered a lifestyle, and big rock bands were treated with absolute god-like adoration. Music mattered. It was a vital part of peoples' lives, and in THE ROSE it reaches the heights of excellence that normally exist only in memories that have improved with age. In this case, the music sounds as vibrant, exciting, and fresh today as when the movie debuted.
Bette belts out these songs with soul and fiery passion. The only other contemporary singer I can imagine doing a similarly credible job is Melissa Etheridge.
Sissy Spacek won the Best Actress Oscar for Coal Miner's Daughter (1980), but in retrospect I'm sure a lot of people regret not having awarded it to Bette Midler. This was not only an amazing, high caliber performance, but one that the passage of time has not diminished. This is a stunning movie. My dream is to rent a movie theatre for an evening, invite 30 friends, and relive this great experience.
Movie theatres used to be bigger, and were aptly called "movie palaces". THE ROSE deserves to be seen in such a grand venue. In the rich pantheon of movie history, THE ROSE is true royalty.
Note added October 9, 2007: It has been over a year, and I have no indication if anyone has ever read this review. If you read it, even if you give it a thumbs down, please answer whether the review was useful to you or not. I just am so curious if anyone will EVER read it. Right now, I'm listening to the soundtrack. This movie is timeless.
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