Rosetta (1999) Poster

(1999)

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10/10
No DVD release in the U.S.
MikeF-616 May 2005
This small Belgian film was the unexpected winner of the Palme d'Or at Cannes during the year when David Cronenberg and his panel of contrarians ruled. Because other, more popular films ("All About My Mother," "L'Humanité," "The Straight Story") were passed over, "Rosetta" has received a reputation as an undeserved winner. I am here to proclaim it a great film and a worthy addition to anyone's Best list. I have not researched whether or not the director of "Rosetta" set out adhere to Dogma 93 principles, but many of them are present – no movie makeup, natural light, natural locations, no soundtrack music, and hand held cameras. The camera follows one person – the title character – so that just about every shot is either of her or from her point of view. Rosetta lives with her alcoholic prostitute mother in a camping trailer at a run down campground called The Grand Canyon. She is in her late teens, doesn't have any friends (except one she meets during the course of the story) or even communicates much with other people, and is only interested in getting a regular job and living a normal life. In a remarkable episode, we see her in bed just before going to sleep. She is having a conversation with herself that goes, "You have a job. I have a job. You have a friend. I have a friend. You have a normal life. I have a normal life. Good night. Good night." Rosetta is played by Émilie Dequenne (who won Best Actress at Cannes). She is so good, so natural, so much *Rosetta* that, along with the photographic technique, she gives the material a documentary feel. One reviewer even called her a "non-actor" as if she were not a professional actress (this is her first movie role) and had been picked right out of that campground to play her own life. The film goes by quickly even as the plot unfolds slowly. We follow Rosetta as she travels her city by foot and bus looking for work, catching fish to eat from an urban river, and tentatively letting one other person into her routines. Sometimes character motivation may seem murky, but it is a thrill, later, when you realize what was really going on. If I remember correctly, there is only one brief dialog exchange near the end where one person explains plot points to another for the audience's benefit. The ending is a tender moment that may indicate a new stage in Rosetta growth. Highly recommended. A beautiful and deeply felt film.
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Dispassionate fury
p_reavy13 June 2000
I saw Rosetta 3 or 4 months ago and it has stayed vividly in my mind. I would like to respond to two other commentaries here which compare Rosetta to earlier films.

One commentary compares it to Nights of Cabiria. But this is no pastoral fantasy like the Fellini. Another contributor calls Rosetta a fake Bresson. Presumably the point of comparison is with Bresson's Mouchette, and it's a good comparison to make, but I don't think it is one that diminishes Rosetta. Both Mouchette and Rosetta capture the flow of time and the characters' interior worlds realistically, but with realisms which are quite different. Mouchette's struggle is a spiritual one; Rosetta's struggle is with her physical conditions.

To make a comparison of my own, albeit an off-the-wall one, Rosetta's determination is strangely like the pure will-power that Lee Marvin demonstrates, barging into the Organisation's HQ in Point Blank. Maybe this forceful quality is what makes it a "war film".

The film-makers do the opposite of sentimentalising Rosetta's conditions as Fellini would have done. Arguably, they even go past Bresson, if you tend to a materialist rather than a religious point of view. They argue how poverty operates, how surviving it involves anger.

There is one moment when Rosetta slips in a lake and we understand exactly at the moment she does, that she may in fact drown. Not a moment that's easy to forget.
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Well acted and painfully sad one camera film
cogency125 May 2004
This film relies mainly on one camera to capture every little action and detail of the lead character, Rosetta, especially in her reactions to the despair she suffers throughout the film. I caught this one on IFC on May 23rd. The acting is so realistic, it is hard to imagine that the story is fictional and is shot in a documentary type style, where the hand held camera follows the actors, sneaks glimpses of their world in much the same way an ENG crew would on a story about poverty in a small European town where the economy is so bad there is little one can do to survive outside of desperate acts. In this case, Rosetta, the young girl with an alcoholic mother, lives in a trailer with no heat, has to sell re-sewn clothes to make a meager existence until she finally sees an opportunity open up for a job selling waffles at a small stand in a high traffic part of town. A young man who works there is smitten with her and offers to split some earnings from selling waffles he makes outside of his boss's knowledge. To tell you what happens next would give away the rest, but suffice to say this film is bitterly realistic, terribly sad and the ending is rather sudden but it shows some promise for the characters. The movie is shot with almost no budget, but some great camera work, some scenes a little long but edited fairly well, no music, and subtitles under the French dialog. It deserves awards for telling a very credible story demonstrating hardship of the poor in Europe and what measures one has to take to survive. I was deeply moved and driven to weep during painful scenes of the lead character's despair and what seems to be a hopeless situation. The character is genuinely portrayed by a young actress from Belgium performing extremely well for her first film role. Fine work by director and cast.
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7/10
It's a hard life -- crude and bitter medicine: harsh poverty unabashedly delivered and desperation complete
ruby_fff2 January 2000
This is beyond the intensity of Gary Oldman's "Nil By Mouth", and Tim Roth's "The War Zone", while Erick Zonca's "Dreamlife of Angels" seems heavenly compared to the conditions presented in "Rosetta" by Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne.

A down right harsh film. Unsparingly direct depiction of a young girl's poverty struggle. She is as tough as she can be. She fights vigorously to hang on to a job. She cares for her mother, a helpless alcoholic, and a seamstress when not drunk. Rosetta (Emilie Dequenne) is unrelentingly stubborn about receiving kindness, or food unsolicited. She has her dignity. A young person with so much burden on her shoulder and a heavy heart.

Things may be seemingly repetitive: again and again we see her crossing that traffic roadway, jumping into the bush trail; we hear the rustling leaves, the thumping of her footsteps; we watch her stopping by the hideout where she kept her rubber boots, changing her only good pair of working shoes; we follow her as she crawls through the wire fence loophole, arriving at the campers -- feels like a mindless routine. Yet, she's intensely single-minded on getting "a real job" (vs. moonlighting) and to have "a normal life", not to "fell into a rut". At one point, we can almost be happy for her to have "found a friend" in Riquet (Fabrizio Rongione), a waffle street van vendor. She actually was able to peacefully sleep that night. Only to wake up and report at work to be told she's again out of a job. A devastating blow. Out of desperation, she did something that most of us viewers may not be able to comprehend -- but what do we know of her travails, who are we to judge her action?

It was not easy for her to have done what she did -- she did hesitate and took the risk. She risked her newfound friendship -- she desperately needed "to have a job". In a way, she has lack tenderness, love and warmth for so long that she's numb to human kindness -- she needs to be thawed! One has to be patient with her, to give her time and see through her tough surface and rekindle her heart. Trust needs to be rebuilt for her to continue living and tackle difficulties afresh!

This is no Hollywood fare. Dialogs are few. No exploitative, explosive, abusive scenes. We're given the bare structure of the story, and Rosetta, plus the sparing few supporting characters, held the movie steadily intact.
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9/10
Does Rosetta Find a Way Out?
js-smith23 September 2000
The test of some performances is how much empathy you feel for an exasperating character you would normally not care for. The actress Emilie Dequenne, especially in the final scene of "Rosetta," really makes you glimpse why desperation drives some people to do the things they do -- although you may not totally understand. All the disgust and anger you feel toward her evaporates when you glimpse the soul of the character through her face.

She does not know how to lift herself out of her circumstances. Does she grow as a person or remain trapped like an animal? You hope that her decision to leave the prize was made out of remorse for the betrayal of a friend. After the sudden ending, you pray she gets a new attitude and finds a way out.

But I don't think she will. The character is caught like a bird flapping around a cage and can't get out of the film's stoic vision.
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Loneliness of one who longs to belong.
hodo6814 May 2002
I found this film quite effecting without ever straying into crass sentimentality. Rosetta is a young girl who is full of anger and yearning. She lives with a dysfunctional alcoholic mother in a caravan park. Little is given about her past but we can understand that due to her upbringing she has limited options available to her. Her desire to be find a job (any job) is both desperate and touching. For Rosetta the prospect of a job, even a job that many in middle class society (indeed the average art house cinema goer!) might regard as mundane and without prospects, represents to her a chance to escape the existence on the outskirts of society. Her drive however raises her above the mere status of victim, and it is a credit to the lead that she conveys so much of this, without it having to be spelt out.

One thing I did find a little disconcerting was the wobbly camera technique, don't see if you are feeling a little nauseous as I was however this is only a minor criticism. Its around 90 minutes and I think well worth the investment if you like a good character based movie.
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10/10
shattering, absorbing study of the human spirit
peteh2218 October 2000
Rosetta breaks all of the rules of film making and comes up with an amazing drama of almost epic proportions. This is a heartbreaking film, in line with the Dogme 95 manifesto. No artificial lights, no music, shot on location, and with non professional actors. The best of these is inevitable- Rosetta herself, played by Emile Dequenne. Both film and actress won major prizes in Cannes. Just rewards for an astonishing peice of work.
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Crash Dive
tieman6431 August 2011
Warning: Spoilers
One time Palme d'Or winner, now forgotten, the Dardenne brothers' "Rosetta" stars Emilie Dequenne as Rosetta, a teenage girl trying to escape an alcoholic mother, her decaying trailer park (ironically titled "Grand Canyon", an abyss which sucks in an entire underclass) and her apparently dead-end existence. The film recalls Robert Bresson's "Mouchette", but is shot with fierce, angry hand-held camera work, which mirrors Rosetta's own bottled up rage and desperation. One passage, in which the seventeen year old Rosetta is virtually exploited by a company for cheap labour, led to Belgium changing several laws, banning employers from paying teenage workers less than the minimum wage. It's a tiny, condescending, almost insignificant real-life gesture, but the kind of little gestures which keep today's Rosettas alive nevertheless.

The film isn't only about Rosetta's daily struggles for survival, but the blind eyed turned toward an entire stratum of society. Rosetta is a member of a socio-economic class which the world refuses to deal with, let alone acknowledge. Like a disease, she finds herself being pushed further and further out.

"Rosetta" is heavily influenced by Bresson's "Mouchette", another film which revolved around a marginalised girl who cares for a burdensome mother. And like Bresson, the Dardennes focus on their heroine's own private rituals: the taking off of muddy boots, the scrounging for and preparing of food, the tending to an alcoholic mother etc. And all the while, Rosetta's plotting: how do I escape this? What future will I be allowed?

At the end of "Mouchette", Bresson's heroine seemed to resort to suicide, rolling into a muddy pond. The pond features in "Rosetta" as well, though here it is both a source of life and death. Rosetta goes to it for fish, for food, for escape, while later, when a friend falls inside it, she initially refuses to save him. After-all, with him dead, she can inherit his business and perhaps make some money. It is in her best interest to ignore him, to discard his body and turn away as society does to her. But of course she doesn't. She fishes him out. Unlike the world, she views him, if only for a moment, as a kindred spirit rather than a competitor.

Still, suicide factors into "Rosetta" as well, for our hero does eventually regard it as her only mode of escape. Ironically, like Bresson's "The Devil Probably", she must pay for her own suicide. Even her death has been commodified. In this way, the film not only exposes the indifference of contemporary capitalism, in which economic disparities grow by the day, in which class has become a bigger distinction than nationality, language, religion etc, but highlights a certain impossibility of morality. Rosetta saves a life, but in doing so may have destroyed her own future.

8/10 – Not as aesthetically strong as similar modern movies in its field ("Wendy and Lucy", "Mouchette", "Land of Plenty" etc), or the Italian neo-realist, British kitchen-sink and French new-wave films which inspire it. Worth one viewing.
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10/10
A Subtle Masterpiece
coy_dog024 December 2003
An example of a true drama, as opposed to a melodrama (Saving Private Ryan is a popular example of a melodrama that passes itself off as a drama). It's been a few years since I've seen it, so I'm fuzzy on the names, but the finest scene in the movie occurs as Rosetta serves customers at a kind of snack food stand. She had just recently 'stole' the job from her only friend in the film. Customer after customer is served, as we wait in suspense for a certain person to arrive--the very man who's job she took. He arrives...off-screen (!), but we know exactly who it is. The camera painfully lingers on Rosetta as we beg for it to pan right, or (even better) to look away. Excellent.
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10/10
Beauty
ruben mohe8 August 2000
In my opinion, the best movie of 1999.

Definitively, underlining the existence of a master-piece called "Mouchette" is a must. Though Dardene brothers are not changing the cinematographic language as Bresson did, their movie almost attains in a few moments both the beauty and the intensity of Bresson's master-piece. Only a true artist can repeat the suicide of Mouchette succesfully (and, without any doubt, the moving final sequence belongs to the history of cinema with all merits). I'd like to point out also the magnificent use of music in this film (you could hardly find two movies a year in which the music is not a nuisance nowadays, some directors should limit themselves to the music that comes from the scene itself -a radio, a piano...- ): it appears only once, and is a messy, distortioned home recording of drums, which serves the co-starring as an excuse to dance with Rosetta. To those who are looking for a contrast in the movie, it's precisely this boy and specially this scene the ones that offer a way out.

Do the people that need to know why Rosetta is like that also want to know why the birds attack the humans in Hitchcocks classic?

Is it possible to construct such a character without showing, by repetition of sequences, the redundance of Rosettas' life? Is it possible such a beauty in the final sequence without the proper patient use of time?
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9/10
totally intense
tkno10 May 2001
i think, this movie is an intense experience in real life from the first to the last minute.maybe the camera is a little bit uncommen in the beginning; but very soon you forget about that and you get drawn into the plot. well there are not too many things happening, but what's happening is just like real life. in some way this movie ressembles the "dogma95"-films, but is much more authentic, as it takes place in some sort of sub-proletariat and not in

the middle class with its phoney-problems.
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A harsh but superb portrayal of the brutalising effect of human hardship.
Ruvi Simmons22 January 2001
The Dardenne brothers were not incorrect when they called their Palme D'Or winning work "a war film.". It is an unremitting portrayal of the most dire hardships, centred around Rosetta (Emilie Dequenne), a young, spirited girl who battles with desperate tenacity to find a job and not so much escape as merely survive in her surroundings. Her life is a bleak struggle for subsistence in a world devoid of tenderness, in which her mother (Anne Yernaux), a quasi-prostitute more concerned with the source of her next drink than her daughter, stands as an example of the potential results of such continued deprivation. When she is befriended by a waffle vendor (Fabrizio Rongione), her prior existence leaves her unsure of how to act in the presence of an affectionate, concerned face, and when he attempts to teach her to dance, she can do no more than move jerkily without rhythm, uncomfortable in the arms of another human. The arisal of an opportunity to take his job forces Rosetta to confront whether physical necessity can ever be an excuse for the betrayal of others.

What follows is a superbly wrought piece of social realism, unsentimental in its examination of the dehumanising effects of poverty. For Rosetta and many others in analogous situations of the most dire physical hardship, their material deprivation leads to an erosion emotional and mental qualities. The Dardenne brothers' ruthless directional style, laced with close-ups and unpleasant details, tangibly conveys the dirt and drudgery of Rosetta's impoverished life. Indeed, the film is palpably cold, almost painfully explicit in its depiction of an uncaring world. In addition, Dardenne's performance, for which she won the Best Actress Award at Cannes, brings to life with understated excellence her fight, not to live well, but simply to survive by any means in a world that, for her, contains few hopes and no love.

The Dardenne brothers make no excuses or apologies for their presentation of Rosetta's base strivings, delivering a film that charts how far individuals can fall. Consistently raw and at times brutal, the film nevertheless proposes no answers, expects no sympathy, it merely conveys and evokes with a clear, uncompromising eye the bleak struggle for existence that is, for some, the total of what life has to offer. Harsh, but utterly compelling viewing.
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Utterly remarkable
vierevee14 January 2000
Sometimes you see a work of art and it knocks you out - it's all you can do for days and days to come to get it out of your mind. And you try to find a way in your mind to bring yourself closer to it, immerse yourself in it. You'll read everything about it that you can, try to find some more of the artist's work, find everything you can to do with it. All this to try and replicate the feeling that you experienced when you first encountered the piece. This is the effect that I've been trying to achieve since I saw Rosetta at 1999's London Film Festival.

Though some have attributed Rosetta's success at Cannes to the last-day syndrome; whereby the film that stays freshest in the panel's minds is the one that wins, it smacks of cavilling to suggest that this is the reason behind Rosetta's success - the simple fact is that it's a remarkable film which was only seriously rivalled this year by Almodovar's All About My Mother. Ignorance and snobbery have constantly been at work when Rosetta has been considered by critics, since it's a film which has divided the critics.

Top of the list of things-to-hate about Rosetta is the Dardennes' decision to shoot hand-held, an objection which I can understand but barely comprehend. Rosetta is a film which follows its heroine. Therefore, by mounting the camera almost on her shoulders, we see the world as she sees it, just as we see the world as she thinks it throughout the rest of the film. Most perfect is a scene when she is lying in bed at the house of Ricquet, her (only) friend, when she reassures herself that she's normal, she's found a friend, a *true* job and that she won't fall into the hole. Seldom is a more perfect and more touching marriage and explanation of the inner-self and its outer-conflicts achieved? - it's just magnificent cinema.

Rosetta is a fighter, but although her conflicts are with individuals, in a literal, physical sense, the metaphorical struggle is with the societal brick wall which she comes up against when trying to forge 'une vie normale' for herself. She's fighting against society for the right to live a life; she's fighting against society for a modicum of dignity. In this way, Rosetta is both existentialist and political, though never overtly, much to the credit of the Dardenne Brothers, since Rosetta is a 'universal' film.

The question which Rosetta poses is how we can release ourselves from the trouble we are in. Rosetta believes, and has been taught to believe (ironically, by society) that the way that she can achieve this dignity is by getting a 'true' job - so much so that she phones her boss to tell him that she won't be at work before her suicide attempt. She doesn't see that it's through Ricquet, not through having a job (his job) that she stands the best chance of forging a true identity, a true life and true dignity.

Rosetta is, in effect, just a proletarian hero, fighting society for the right to live and the right to work. However, to see the film in this way is reductionist in the extreme and is self-defeating. Rosetta is, above all, an individual. Her victory is to see that she has a friend who was there all along, and this gives us a remarkable ending that is full of drama; packs a considerable emotional punch and is unforgettable, thanks especially to a stunningly naturalistic performance by Emilie Dequenne, who won an award at Cannes for her portrayal of Rosetta. Her interpretation of the eponymous heroine lends so much to the film that she is as much responsible for the brilliance of the film as the directors are.

This film will never be a hit with middle-class and middle-class, middle-brow critics it in the same way that Schindler's List and The English Patient were; the bourgeoisie never want to get their hands dirty. It's their loss; Rosetta is quite simply one of the most wonderful films you'll ever see.
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9/10
life is a great gift so fight as strong as you can to keep it safe.
niki_salehi24 July 2010
Rosetta is one of the most greatest productions about fighting to live in the cinema industry."life is a valuable gift so you should protect it by being as strong as you can."I think this is the main message of the film.Emilie Dequenne in the role of Rosetta would remain in the memory of cinema forever.She didn't speak that much but she was such a professional actress that showed all her feelings in her face.The scene that Rosetta spoke with herself before sleeping was fantastic.Technical features such as carrying camera on hand and using no music even at the end of the film,make us to believe that this is going to be a special documentary.
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7/10
Deservedly praised
ellkew29 May 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Like most viewers I was initially surprised by the abrupt ending but after running it around in my head it finally made perfect sense. This is the moment when she is finally able to see beyond the psychological wall she has built up around her. She sees the man stood before her who has been trying to help her throughout and therefore the story ends on a positive note. The camera-work manages to bring out the human story and I did get the sense that this was a person who is trapped by her circumstances and having to face the daily assault that is her life. We do not choose our parents and Rosetta had the task of taking on the adult role while her mother assumed the irresponsible daughter caught drinking. The scene in the pond was deeply disturbing. To think that a mother is that far gone that she would not hear the cries of her own daughter. The desperation that Rosetta feels at trying to fit in and just simply get a job is deeply felt. The scene at night where she mutters to herself her basic needs I found extremely moving.

The struggle of life is difficult to watch but ultimately rewarding and Cronenberg did cinema proud by awarding its highest honour to this marvellous work by the Dardenne brothers.
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Better than "La Promesse"
simuland21 April 2000
Social realism with an edge. One camera, one actress, everything stripped to the bone, down to the rules of survival. Verité to the max, the single hand-held eye of the film follows a teenage girl (Emilie DeQueene) on the fringe of extinction, poor almost to the point of homelessness, saddled with an alcoholic quasi-prostitute mother, desperate for work, for some semblance, any semblance of "normality," doing everything humanly possible to keep her head above water, at one point quite literally almost drowned by her mother.

Life at the razor's edge, reduced to the basics, shows us what we are, what we are made of and need most but take for granted, forget as soon as we can. None of us want to think of what we might turn into if trapped like an animal. This is a proletarian lesson, a lesson in the dignifying value of work, of belonging, of one's right to selfhood in society. As materialistic as the USA is, one will never find an American film this brutally honest about our relation to our means of survival.

All alone in the world, Rosetta jettisons everything, all attachments, any superfluous connection to humanity, coldly focusing what little remains on ol' numero uno. What would you? The film details every little exigency she must overcome just to move and breathe with the rest of us, follows her every stratagem to eke out a bare existence, down to every single small possession essential to her urban expeditions, down to the mud she digs her hands into to find worms for bait.

The underlying conflict, the real theme of it all becomes clear only in fragments: What's the point of living for oneself, by oneself, reduced to a jungle animal? She finds the answer in the most stark and extreme of terms, having been to hell and back.
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Tragically Watchable
ddumanis20 May 2004
A very tragic tale...almost comes off like a documentary with the hand-held camera work, which was dizzying at times. The lead actress was excellent and the girl's determination to lead a normal life was admirable, although at times heartbreaking. Watching her go through her everyday routines was fascinating.

I did also find that I wasn't pleased with the ending...didn't really conclude in any meaningful way for me..but it is the closest I've ever been to getting inside the head of someone who is struggling just to stay alive on such a basic level. I kind of wish that the ending had been more clearly spelled out..on the other hand I know that's very American of me:)
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The resolute failure of placing the value of economic determinism and its perceived happiness over the more humanistic pursuit of the joys, wants, and basic needs of the human condition.
Gary-The King-Tooze29 May 2004
A film that continually details the fundamental survival qualities of the title character-a basic premise infusing her ability to cope and her morality. I like to think of Rosetta as the anti-Citizen Kane. The conclusion of both films focuses on the resolute failure of placing the value of economic determinism and its perceived happiness over the more humanistic pursuit of the joys, wants, and basic needs of the human condition. Rosetta however comes at this conflict from the most basic, sparse end of the spectrum-one that more people should be able to relate to.

Often compared to Robert Bresson's Mouchette, Rosetta's conclusion is perhaps best described as 'Bressonian.' In the end we see a young woman stripped of everything-at her most desperate and most defeated. Yet she has given up, thrown in the towel because of the nature of her character as opposed to the extensively defeating circumstances that she's burdened under. Her final glance at the camera tells us how far she has been reduced. Her eyes are reaching out, unlike her past displays of anger, frustration, or selfishness, but instead with the least obstructed countenance she's capable of offering. Just one small human cry for help-and yet it means everything.
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9/10
A wonderful actress and terse shots result in a movie bursting with empathy
stefan-11828 July 2000
As with "Breaking the Waves," the documentary style of this film invites you to drop your guard, relax your detachment... and then the movie hooks you with a ferocious performance by Emilie Dequenne, who plays Rosetta, a teenager from the Belgian underclass coping with the despair of her predicament while dreaming of a "normal" life. She's different, of course, and it's this difference that makes for a story worth watching. FIrst of all, she will do almost anything to get that normal life. Second, she has a sense of dignity. These two impulses will clash. It's a simple plot, but Dequenne fuses the disparate impulses in her character so well that it riveted me to my seat. This film also reminded me that cinema at its best has a gaze that goes much deeper than surfaces. Dequenne is not a conventional Gallic beauty a la Sophie Marceau, yet her portrayal of Rosetta's steely fragility made her simply beautiful.
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9/10
Expressive of both Psychological and Physical Pain
WHORNER8 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
From the viewpoint of an American who may misunderstand the politics and social aspects of European nations, it may be difficult to understand why Rosetta does not pursue social services that can extract her from the misery of her existence. It would appear that she and her mother may be "on the dole," as they manage to subsist, but evidently there are limits. It is evident that there are some who inevitably fall through the cracks, and are not fit for anything other than tedious, menial work - - albeit very noble and sometimes adequate-to-lucrative. Our first sight of her, exploding when she learns she is being laid off from her job, is an early clue that there is a psychological or mental flaw. Possibly a learning disability held her back in her education? It would appear that the dismal state of her mother's alcoholism has caused her to be deeply depressed. It is a poignant scene when her mother is so desperately resisting being put into rehab that she shoves her daughter into the pond and abandons her. Rosetta is terrified, and there is a very real danger that she will drown, as the bottom is too slick to gain footing. She narrowly escapes death, while being ignored by her dear mother. I think one major clue to Rosetta's seeming "inability to deal" is the way she self-treats a lingering abdominal pain. She seems to be having a gynecological difficulty, such as endometriosis or ovarian cysts, which can afflict young women and cause blinding pain. Sturdy girl that she is, the propane canister she carries at the end of the film drives her to tears, not from the weight of the canister, but from the aggravation of the abdominal pain that never leaves her. She may have a streak of pride that prevents her from seeking publicly assisted medical treatment, and a modesty about herself and repugnance of anything sexually related, stemming both from her own physical problems and from observing her mother. The fact that the boy whose job she stole and who is at first treating her with contempt but helps her up, raises the possibility that there is some hope of forgiveness and redemption for her. She is an extremely absorbing character, intriguing because the film leaves so much unsaid. I liked the actress, the character, and the story very much.
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8/10
Polished, and painful
kintopf43216 August 2004
Rhythmic, textured, highly expressive film. As others have shown, it's possible to project explicit political themes onto its mere slip of a (non-)story. But doing so would burden this delicate, almost miniature piece with an unbearable weight . . . and it would also distract from the beautifully realized aesthetic elements. It's interesting how Dogme 95-influenced films are so often described as `realistic,' as it's hard to imagine more a more creative or polished technique than we see here. The use of sound is particularly noteworthy--no music could have been more artfully managed than the put-put-put of that little motorbike (sometimes used to get us to laugh, sometimes as surprising and menacing as a rattlesnake). And the frequent close-ups of Émilie Dequenne's face almost immediately force us into an understanding of the character, one which becomes almost as painful for us, given the decisions she makes, as Rosetta's ulcers must be for her. In the end, we may feel like we've seen little new here, but the Dardenne brothers have at least given us a window into the world of a fierce and fiercely sad human being, and as it turns out, that's more than enough. 8 out of 10.
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Le fabuleux destin de Rosetta.
dbdumonteil28 December 2001
Simply,"Rosetta" is the best fin de decade European movie.I have to search my memories to find something vaguely recalling Dardenne's work:maybe Robert Bresson's "Mouchette" or Kenneth Loach's darkest hour.

French cinema generally does not like those who have been left out of economic growth.Rosetta and the boy are on the wrong side of town.She lives in a seedy trailer with her alcoholic mother who's always ready to sleep with the first to come if he provides her with a bottle.She refuses charity,she claims dignity and dignity means work.To get a job ,Rosetta would do anything.Desperate,she tries to steal the boy's one:he sells waffles in a van.When he nearly gets drowned,she is tempted to abandon him to his fate!Later she becomes an informer and exposes his little swindles to his boss.

Dardenne does not judge.He knows we are able to understand that,in this world,conventional moral has got no sense.Besides ,Rosetta confesses to the bewildered boy she wishes he had sunk.The form is absolutely stunning and fits the content like a glove:close shots,at best medium,but no panoramics at all,a tight editing:the director does not want us to take pity on this place where human beings feed themselves with waffles , hard-boiled eggs,or French bread (luxury),where they carry heavy gas bottles without even a wheelbarrow,where they fish in the river to get something to eat without even a fishing rod.Actually we know nothing about Rosetta but her first name.She is the embodiment of poverty as Victor Hugo's Cosette was in "les misérables" during the nineteenth century(the two names almost sound the same).

"Rosetta" is the cries of the oppressed.A disturbing overwhelming movie.
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10/10
Best film ever made, by a wide margin.
NYC-Michael7 February 2003
I've now seen this film a dozen times. Every time I watch it, my thoughts race in so many directions at once and I am transfixed although I know every scene by heart. This movie is all about getting close to that which is thoroughly opaque, and it is about dozens upon dozens of other monumental contradictions as well. If you appreciate nothing else about this movie, at least pay attention to the closing scene, thoroughly beautiful anguish. Best film ever made, by a wide margin.
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Rosetta Stone
writers_reign23 November 2004
This is one that reels you in slowly. There's no wasted exposition. Like Clifford Odets 'Rocket To The Moon' we open right in the middle of a violent argument. The eponymous heroine is being fired and not taking it lying down. She feels she has a genuine beef but we never learn the real truth. What we DO learn is that Rosetta is, in all except name, a metaphor for the forgotten segment of large industrial societies. I can't speak for Belgium but in England there are thousands of teenagers of both sexes not only without work but not Interested in work so Rosetta, in her zealous, single-minded pursuit of even a menial job is almost too good to be true. The dramatic cards are stacked artfully against her, alcoholic mother, no father, not even a MENTION of a father, primitive home in a caravan park and, most unusual of all, not a SINGLE friend. The hand-held camera is content merely to follow her for long stretches of time punctuated by her enemies for in Rosetta's case every encounter is a battle. It remains an extraordinary chronicle with an extraordinary central performance.
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An excellent film.
kbondelli20 August 2002
This is a perfect example of being able to shoot a beautiful movie without anything but a camera. The acting was excellent. It is one of the best acted movies I have seen, and without big name actors. I highly recommend seeking this movie out and watching it.
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