Rosetta (Belgium, 1999)

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Rosetta (Belgium, 1999)

Postby Johndav » Thu Mar 23, 2006 8:30 am


Directors: Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne

Cast: Emilie Dequenne, Fabrizio Rongione, Anne Yernaux, Olivier Gourmet

BELGIUM/FRANCE. 1999. 91 Mins. COLOUR. Cert: U

"The heart that is low now will be at the full tomorrow" (R.S.Thomas)

The award of the 1999 Cannes Palme d'Or to Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne's "Rosetta" met with general surprise and confusion. Screened at the very end of competition, the film had slipped through a crowd of acclaimed rivals, unheralded and largely unnoticed.

Reminiscent of Bresson's "Mouchette", it concerns a teenage loner who lives in a run-down Belgian trailer park with an alcoholic mother, battles desperately to find work and is obliged to draw on her own resources to survive - emotionally and physically - a tough, bleak life.

In "Rosetta" the hand-held camera clings to the central character like an umbilical cord. Yet such is the film's rigorous authenticity and power that it breaks free of its constraints and soars.

This achievement owes much to the director's searching unsentimental honesty but more still to an outstanding, intensely concentrated performance from young Emilie Dequenne. Inhabiting her character in her breathing, her posture, in every minutest detail, Dequenne simply is Rosetta. Vulnerable, burdened and suspicious, but fiercely, at times ferociously, determined, she is a seemingly indomitable warrior with no trace of self-pity, charged with an extraordinary feral force.

From its dramatic expressive opening, in which Rosetta's walk conveys a world of meaning, the film is endowed with scenes of memorable impact, most notably the near-drownings and the tender, reassuring repetitions with which Rosetta sends herself to sleep.

"Rosetta" might even be said to justify Godard's famous statement that film is the truth twenty four times a second, and never more so than in its final moment. Mercilessly hounded by a young man whose friendship she had betrayed, Rosetta at last crumples in tearful, defeated exhaustion. By resolutely continuing to focus not on his reaction but on the girl herself, the Dardennes capture an expression which conveys a wonderful sense of compassion, acceptance and hope.

Re: Rosetta (Belgium, 1999)

Postby hengcs » Thu Mar 23, 2006 12:18 pm

guess what ...

I have recently watched these films on the BIG SCREEN again ... hee hee ...
I have wanted to write the reviews, but was simply too busy ...

- L'Enfant (2005)
- Le Fils (2002)
- Rosetta (1999)
- La Promesse (1996)

Re: Rosetta (Belgium, 1999)

Postby arsaib4 » Thu Mar 23, 2006 11:54 pm

John, thanks for this and the other wonderful reviews you posted yesterday -- your take on Russian Ark deserves to be published!

Did you know that in one of the early drafts Rosetta was supposed to die?! But the Dardennes later changed their minds thinking that the film might end up being too bleak. Good thing, I say.

Re: Rosetta (Belgium, 1999)

Postby Johndav » Fri Mar 24, 2006 11:42 am

Er, i must admit the reviews aren't new, in fact a couple were probably on the site before the problems + rebirth. And they were originally done for MovieMail (the UK's most reputable world cinema company)- but as i couldn't find them in the archives here i thought it wouldn't take much to add them. When i'm finally properly settled in life i'll take up doing reviews regularly again. Oh yeah i really like the ending of Rosetta as it is, can't imagine the original plan would have been better. No doubt they had Mouchette in mind.

Re: Rosetta (Belgium, 1999)

Postby trevor826 » Fri Mar 24, 2006 12:23 pm

Hi John, almost everything was lost from the site last year, your posts were totally wiped. Do you have other comments or reviews waiting in the wings? If so please bring em on.

Cheers Trev.

Re: Rosetta (Belgium, 1999)

Postby Johndav » Fri Mar 24, 2006 9:27 pm

I've just found that Rosetta is ranked #1 all-time film in a list by "Art + Faith", some sort of Christian organisation i presume. (Sansho the Bailiff was # 26, another pleasant surprise)!

Re: Rosetta (Belgium, 1999)

Postby hengcs » Thu Mar 30, 2006 6:17 am

hmmm ... before i comment on all the 4 films, may i ask about two "repeated" scenes that i see in Rosetta?!

(1) was the stomach pain ever explained? i am okay if it was not ... but i wondered ...

(2) why was she always "fishing"/and "NOT really fishing" with the bottle?!

* possible spoiler *

to me, the "shocked" scene was the betrayal ...


Re: Rosetta (Belgium, 1999)

Postby A » Mon Apr 24, 2006 12:40 am

Yeah, I wouldn't have expected the betrayal either.
The film was a bit "Disappointing" to me, because after the phenomenal first 10 minutes the rest didn't seem as great. But the ending is fabulous again.
I realy think the beginning is one of the best ever.
And John, keep up the good work!

Re: Rosetta (Belgium, 1999)

Postby trevor826 » Sun Dec 31, 2006 9:59 pm

Well I'm glad to say I've ended my 2006 film viewing on a high having watched Rosetta, it's been a good while since I last saw it and found myself feeling sympathy, then empathy followed by shock and awe before the wonderful closure.

Both Rosetta and The Son are absolutely outstanding films that deserve to be highly recommended. Rosetta also reminded me of how pale films like Welsh drama "A Way Of Life" and Irish docu-drama "Pavee Lackeen: The Traveller Girl" are, certainly in comparison.

Excellent review by the way John.

Cheers Trev.

Re: Rosetta (Belgium, 1999)

Postby jcdavies » Sun Dec 31, 2006 10:19 pm

I also really like L'Enfant which has a similar, though more clearly expressed, sense of forgiveness and coming together after betrayal- which in the case of L'Enfant is even more extreme. Little wonder the 2 films are admired by certain religious organisations, appear on spiritual lists. The Dardenne bros create a vivid believable reality, with rare non-judgmental and ultimately hopeful attitudes.


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