By Athan Bezaitis
Fair warning! Don't eat a big meal before you watch Rosetta. If you thought the handheld camera motion from The Blair Witch Project was bad, you'll be stumbling out of this one with a splitting headache and nausea that only Dramamine can prevent or projectile vomiting can cure. At least in Blair Witch the technique served a purpose that added an element of mystery to the film. Rosetta, on the other hand, was so dull and convoluted that the hand held style fails miserably in its attempt to create a "realistic atmosphere." Directors Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne should issue a warning for theaters to block off the first eight rows of every location that this movie opens so that nobody gets too close to the screen, plus they ought to provide those handy little barf bags, just in case you have a weak stomach like me.
Rosetta, played by newcomer Emilie Dequenne, is a seventeen year-old adolescent suffering through a miserable life in Seraing, Belgium. She lives in a trailer park with an alcoholic mother who prostitutes herself for booze and food. Her home barely has running water and cannot even provide shelter from the cold wind. Despite her horrid circumstances, the film chronicles her incredible perseverance and strength as she attempts to get a job that will provide food and rent money for her desolate family to survive.
The film's production is primarily at fault for its failure. Subtitled in English, several key scenes have white backgrounds, which make the writing on the screen illegible. Unless you speak French, you'll have no clue as to what is being said. Also, the film never explains the significance of Rosetta's perplexing stomach ailment, which plagues her whenever she expresses any strong emotions. These crucial blunders, coupled with the poor handheld photography, spoil Emilie Dequenne's performance, which resonates as the only bright spot of the whole film.
This is one that should be avoided if you're a movie hound looking for kicks this holiday season. But if you insist on seeing it, I don't recommend eating cheese-filled pastries right before, like I did.
Facts and Figures
In Theaters: Wednesday 22nd September 1999
Distributed by: USA Films
Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Fresh: 24 Rotten: 3
Cast & Crew