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Key Grip

Joined: 11 Dec 2004
Posts: 29

PostPosted: 12.11.2004 7:58 pm    Post subject: ROSETTA Reply with quote


"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 directors' 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" justifies 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.

(courtesy of MovieMail)
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Studio Exec

Joined: 26 Jun 2003
Posts: 2341
Location: West Bend, WI

PostPosted: 12.11.2004 8:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Next to Panahi, I consider the Dardennes the most exciting filmmakers in the world. I agree that Rosetta is a masterpiece, but I prefer La Promesse and especially The Son, which topped my Best list last year:

"Nature and man converge in the physical, dog-eared formalism of Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne -- like Olivier, the dutiful carpenter at the center of their latest working-class parable, the brothers plunder the natural, visible world for raw materials, only to whittle away until something human, moral, and beautiful emerges. Their swooping, bob-and-weave visual style might appear wonky at first, but for those of us who believe cinema has a genealogical link to reality, and believe the camera prefers complexity, spontaneity, and chance over artifice, their skittery cinematography becomes a powerful measuring device: While Olivier perfectly judges distances by eyeballing them, the Dardennes perfectly gauge a man by filtering him through their lens. Racing and pausing and breathing at just the right moments, the brothers expertly ripsaw into Olivier, exposing the knots and gnarly grain within.

After his son is killed and his wife leaves him, Olivier finds midlife meaning by tutoring errant boys at a vocational training center in Belgium. His shop is presented as a chamber of hazards, where impending doom might include purple fingernails, lopped off digits, or toppling lumber -- and as promised, when a new apprentice arrives something does indeed crash down on Olivier's head, nearly knocking him out of his overalls, leather tool belt, and cloudy glasses. Although this doughy, reticent teacher sees the world through a closed-off haze of grief and melancholy, Olivier Gourmet's vigorous performance -- his psychological delicacies earned him best actor at Cannes -- sands away the fog, makes every angle true, and finally moves us in unexpected ways: By the end, a father without a son has discovered a son without a father. Lacking luxuries such as rapid cuts, a musical score, orcs, pirates, or Agent Smiths, The Son is nevertheless the year's most breathless and majestic picture, a life-sized adventure about forgiveness, discipline, and the possibility of grace. "

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