Customer Reviews: Rosetta (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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on December 29, 2002
I remember, at least half a dozen times, passing this movie by in the video store, gravitating towards it due to the legend "Winner Palm D'Or Best Actress/Best Picture" and the lovely face of Emilie Dequenne, then passing it by after reading the back. The summary of the plot bored me so immediately and intensely that I could not imagine actually sitting and watching the film. I eventually changed my mind, and thankfully so.
Rosetta is an absolutely driven character, almost an animal, single-minded in her goals. Those goals are mundane: find a job, lead a normal life. Her obstacles are mundane: rent, alcoholic mother, cramps. She asks questions, gets her answers, and walks away with no pretense of social grace. For most scenes the camera either points in the direction of Rosetta's POV, over her shoulder, or aims directly into her face. The shot rarely sits still: action and object are the same here. We see what she sees as she sees it and make judgments about people and situations alongside her, a process that usually reveals how silly normal people seem when viewed by someone with no tolerance for nonsense. She does not understand dancing - leisure, or why people would indulge in it when other things need doing, is foreign to her.
Routine fills her existence, and when the routines of friendship and work cannot be found, she constructs new and even unnecessarily complicated routines: cross the road to find the sewer where she hid her boots, change out of shoes into boots to cross the mud to reach the lake where she's set up fish traps with bobbypins and broken bottles, every day. She doesn't even keep the fish. In that way she, like most of us, is completely neurotic - but who has the motivation to carry out their designs with so much determination, in ignorance of those neuroses? Who completely ignores defeat?
I would recommend other Dequenne pictures, but apparently her only other role is alongside Mark Dacascos in the inscrutible Brotherhood of the Wolf. Stick with Rosetta and enjoy.
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on May 10, 2006
one of the most amazing films to ever be made. Rosetta is the compelling and moving story of a young girl that faces hardships beyond her years. Loss of a job, dealing with her alcholic mother and the center of all of this desperation, to have a good life, and get things going in the right direction, she betrays a friend, begs for jobs and sneaks in and out of the trailer park she and her mother live in, ironically called "the grand canyon".

Rosetta has an iron clad determination that drives her, and she will not give up no matter what.

An extremely real, gritty, emotional and touching film that won numerous awards for the actress playing rosetta(?milie Dequenne) as well as for Jean-Pierre Dardenne & Luc Dardenne at the cannes film festival.

An absolute treasure.
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on October 17, 2000
Rosetta,a film that deals with the struggles of a young woman who has just been fired from her job at a factory in Belgium,was an extremely pleasant surprise for me.Emilie Dequenne's performance in the lead role is riveting,realistic,raw,and energetic.If this were a film financed by hollywood,there's no doubt her gender would have been exploited,and she would have been some sexpot with boy troubles.Not so in this cinematic effort.The focus is almost entirely on her effort to secure employment just so she can get a meal and help her alcoholic mother with the rent.She doesn't have time to chase boys,she's only concerned with surviving.The most startling aspect of this film is it's avoidance of manufactured sentimentlity,complete with cheasy music,to get the viewer to sympathize with her predicament.There's no epiphanies,startling revelations,or some cheap trick ending tacked on for marketing purposes.The way the film is shot(16mm or digital video(i'm not sure),handheld tracking shots,what seems like natural lighting)gives it a powerful,frenetic feel.Some people are turned off by the camera movement,but to do it any other way would negate the spontaneous,out of control atmosphere(maybe it doesn't bother me because i spent almost 2 years out at sea without getting sick).The camera follows her every move,you'll feel like a peeping tom stalking this young lady.The supporting cast are all solid,but it's really Dequenne's show,it's the main reason to seek out this hidden gem.Highly recommended,especially for the art house crowd.My only complaint,and it's not with the film itself,is that,why can't more director's take chances with movies such as Rebecca.It's an example of what can be accomplished when you don't try to please the masses,and truly "reflect" grim realities(something hollywood portends to do).Croupier,Dark Days,Human Resources,Blair Witch,The Last Broadcast,and now Rebecca,it's been an amazing 2 years for independent film.I consider this another one of my all time favorites.
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on June 13, 2001
Relentlessly downbeat. Heck, the sun doesn't even shine in Rosetta's world of despair. And the production values made me wonder if the Dardenne brothers signed the Dogme 95 pact. I now understand the controversy at the 2000 Cannes film festival when this dour film picked up the Palme D'Or. However, despite it all, I was moved by Rosetta's plight, and I rooted for her. No doubt this is due to Emilie Dequenne's amazing performance in the title role.
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on October 27, 2004
Rosetta is a powerful film depicting a young woman, Rosetta (Émilie Dequenne), living in the cracks of the Belgian society. The crack in which Rosetta has fallen is a part of society where she has no social protection from the government where corporations exploit her without giving her any securities. Rosetta is considered a minor as she is in the years between adolescence and adulthood.

The initial scene is set in motion as Rosetta violently fights her way into the office at the company where she works. When she arrives to her desired destination it becomes evident that she has been fired. However, what would make someone young that upset for being fired? This is a question that is answered as Rosetta returns home to the trailer park in which she lives. Rosetta is a proud person who struggles with keeping it together for her and her alcoholic mother. The mother evidently has been neglecting her daughter for most of her upbringing as Rosetta takes care of herself in every aspect of life as she has done it for a very long time.

The young female protagonist of story lives a life where she strives for socioeconomic security through a job. This is easier said than done as she finds it very hard to keep a job as she lacks experience and laws that protect her from being exploited by small companies. Rosetta also seeks a home, a place where she can find emotional security, as she continues to hold on to her alcoholic and neglecting mother.

The struggle of Rosetta is not told through long scripted dialogues, but through the daily actions of Rosetta. These actions are captured through a handheld camera as it flows with Rosetta and her difficult journey, which enhance the realism of the film. The realism is soul tearing as the audience cannot escape the world of Rosetta, a world in which Rosetta attempts to find a spot.

Rosetta offers an intricate character study of the young woman through her struggles. Émilie Dequenne was awarded the prize for best actress at the Cannes Film Festival for her part. Besides the character study the film also offers a well-made socioeconomic drama that had an impact on the Belgian government. Shortly after Rosetta was released the Belgian government passed a law branded as "Plan Rosetta". The law protects minors from being exploited by being paid less than minimum wage.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon September 6, 2014
Rosetta reminds me of Truffaut's 400 blows. Both films see a difficult life as viewed by a young person. Rosetta is a 17 year old girl trying to have a normal life. The world around her conspires to keep her from being normal.

The camera work in this film is absolutely amazing. The framing is always so tight and almost claustrophobic. The point of view varies from somebody standing uncomfortably close to Rosetta looking directly at her and then fluidly moves to her point of view. The majority of the film is from the perspective of somebody very close to her, watching what she does.

The Criterion single disc DVD includes two bonus features. The one most people will watch is the 18 minute interview with the lead actress and actor. The interviews were conducted separately and are atypical of actor bonus features. These are deep insight into the motivation, thoughts, and making of the film. This type of interview is so rare with actors. Emilie Dequenne was 17 years old when she played Rosetta in this film. The interview took place 12 years later, and the hindsight is remarkable.

The second bonus feature is, well almost impossible to watch - it is a one hour interview with the Dardenne brothers - directors of the film. It is hard to imagine watching two people talk about the film they made for almost as much time as the film plays. Although I am wrong, I stumbled on the 10 minutes where they talk about casting Emilie Dequenne for the role of Rosetta. They talk about her eyes and how expressive they are. And I was reminded that they are absolutely right - the camera is so close to her all the time, her eyes are the most important thing I remember from the film.

This is not a happy film by any stretch of the imagination. The emotions are strong and the film is so moving. At just over an hour and a half, it was exactly the right length. There are shots in this film that lasted minutes - I have no idea how the cameramen did such an incredible job. Especially after hearing Emilie say the directors and she rehearsed without the crew. When it was time to film, they brought the crew in and shot the film, no more rehearsals.

This is a tender film. I felt such a strong connection with Rosetta. I wanted her to have a normal life. I cared about what happened to her. I was worried about what might happen. The directors understood those feelings and reinforced them in the camera placement, the framing, and the editing.

Rosetta is one of those minor masterpieces.
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on July 28, 2000
Rosetta deservedly was a co-winner of the Palm d'Or at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival and was one of the best movies of the year. Like most European movies, the film does not have a plot or conventional story line. It instead focuses on the desperate attempts of the lead character, the seventeen-year-old Rosetta, to escape poverty and find a normal life. Emilie Dequenne stars and delivers a performance that would be remarkable for an actress of any age, but that is especially astonishing for someone so young who presumably doesn't have the life experience to show such depth. Yet Dequenne convincingly conveys Rosetta's absolute pain and despair. It is easy to empathize with Rosetta and to feel her pain, even when she makes a choice that hurts someone who has only tried to help her. Much of the movie's strength also comes from the camera work. The filmmakers made heavy use of hand-held cameras tightly and almost exclusively focused on Rosetta, creating an incredibly personal effect that enables the viewer to feel what she feels. Although not a light movie or easy to watch, Rosetta is a truly memorable and rewarding film that has a profound impact.
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on November 11, 2013
Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne wrote and directed 'Rosetta', winner of the Palm d'Or at Cannes in 1999, a film about an adolescent girl who shares a trailer and her existence with an alcoholic mother. Its simple story is put together with an intimate, naturalistic style: Rosetta carries the burden of what little is left of her dysfunctional family and aspires to get a job, her own place, to live a normal life, to find freedom; one day, she meets a young man who is willing to help her... The film packs a powerful punch, thanks in great part to the excellent performance of Émilie Dequenne, who won the prize for Best Actress at Cannes that year. Her facial expressions, her posture, even the way she scurries around from place to place, like a raccoon or some other wild animal, all convey the pain, despair, anger and shame that are eating her. I hesitated to watch it at fist, because I didn't know if I was in the mood for something terribly heavy. If you share the same dilemma, fear not: 'Rosetta' isn't nearly as harrowing as, say, Lars Von Trier's 'Breaking The Waves' (1996). It's emotionally demanding, but the economy of its narrative provides a certain lightness. There's a moment in which the main character falls into muddy waters and has a hard time getting out, and I worried for a second that the film might start going into some not-very-subtle symbolism, which I think would have detracted from its main strength - that is, its minimalism and focus on the girl's primitive state of mind, desires, rough gestures. But I don't really think it goes in that direction. Another nice thing about 'Rosetta' is that it clocks out at 95 minutes. It would be too much if it went on for 3 hours. The length is just right.

If you've already watched and enjoyed this film, I recommend 'The Maid' (2009), by Chilean director Sebastián Silva, which is similar in tone and is also very good, one of my favorites.
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on November 30, 2012
"Rosetta" from 1999 was directed by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, and is a film that will be remembered and talked about for years to come. While it's easy to make the mistake of superficially comparing it to Robert Bresson's "Mouchette" 1967, this film has none of that film's ascetic and abstract qualities. Thankfully, the Dardenne brothers have gone for a semi-documentary style (cinéma vérité), to recreate real-life situations with vivid poignancy. So there is no likeness to the aforementioned film; "Rosetta" is actually superior, as far as I'm concerned! The Dardenne brothers have given us a stark depiction of a young-woman (she's about 17), who has the arduous task of taking on the responsibilities of an adult (looking for a full-time job, and caring for her mother and herself), and being robbed of having the life of a normal girl her age. She is also quite depressed abour her situation (who wouldn't be), and what she now sees as a 'dog-eat-dog' existence! Emilie Dequenne as 'Rosetta' is a revelation. She has the rare gift of being natural in front of the camera, and expresses more with her face, than an actor with years of experience, her performance was simply incredible! I don't understand the idiotic comments some reviewers here have made about the camera work. The Dardenne bros. were obviously intelligent enough to know, that 'Rosetta's' claustrophobic (she lives in a trailer) and frenetic existence, demanded tight close-ups/hand-held camera POV, to better place us in her world and in having empathy with her plight. These people should take an extensive Film-class first and foremost! I guess most people just lack artistic sensibilities anyway. More importantly, the message the Dardenne bros. have given us here, is clearly obvious to me. How is it possible for a girl like 'Rosetta' to experience such poverty in a highly advanced and industrialized nation like Belgium, and in 1999 no less? Now imagine, if this kind of poverty is only suppose to exist in the Third World (and we know these conditions have existed everywhere at all times, including right here in the U.S.), what does it say about the kind of world we live in today in 2012, when things are even worse-off! Who runs this global slave-shop? Think about it, long and carefully. Thank God for filmmakers like the Dardennes! An excellent film, this is truly a modern film-masterpiece. Deeply moving, and intended for an audience of thoughtful and compassionate human-beings. The DVD picture and sound quality by Criterion is first-rate of course. NTSC, French (English subtitles), extras, NR 98 mins. (BTW: The supplemental interviews with Emilie Dequenne, Olivier Gourmet, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardennes were very insightful.)

Love and Peace,
Carlos Romero
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on May 14, 2013
I,thought that this was a good movie because again the human interest that was in it.The struggle to cop with the enomic problems of today,s world I saw in this movie,the drinking problem her mother had.The things she had to do in order just to live.
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