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Rosetta (1999)



Average Rating: 8.9/10
Critic Reviews: 6
Fresh: 6 | Rotten: 0

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 3,527

My Rating

Movie Info

Rosetta is a 17-year-old Italian girl who lives in a trailer park on the outskirts of the Belgian town of Seraing. She is driven by a need that quickly becomes her singular obsession: securing a steady job and a normal life. Drowning in poverty and neglect, Rosetta puts all she has into finding and keeping a job, but her single-mindedness will force her into making a choice that she may not be prepared to accept.

Jul 18, 2000

USA Films

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All Critics (52) | Top Critics (14) | Fresh (24) | Rotten (3) | DVD (2)

There's something genuinely religious in Rosetta's stark portrayal of unyielding resurrection.

November 12, 2012 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

a small miracle of a film, one that accomplishes so much with seemingly so little and feels all of a piece, not a moment wasted or misused

October 4, 2012 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

The camera follows right behind Rosetta as she stampedes her way through hardship after hardship, determined to get a fair shake. This puts the viewer in the shoes of Rosetta and we experience her pain firsthand.

September 4, 2012 Full Review Source:

Rosetta (is) a perpetual motion machine constantly racing away from a lens that will always catch up to her.

August 21, 2012 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

'An unflinching portrait of the dehumanizing effects of being forced to live hand-to-mouth with no real hope of escaping.'

June 21, 2004 Full Review Source: Cinematic Reflections

Perhaps some of this would have been nominally interesting if Rosetta were slightly likable.

January 5, 2004 Full Review Source:

Fights and struggles to stay afloat literally and symbolically, just like its heroine.

March 7, 2002 Full Review Source: Matinee Magazine
Matinee Magazine

The drama vividly conveys the stunted emotional and spiritual life of a teenager who has no time for anything except the struggle to survive.

March 4, 2002 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

Some viewers (including a few who walked out when I saw the movie) are going to find the subject too grim and the production too stark - but that's the idea.

February 26, 2002 Full Review Source: Offoffoff

a careful, painful film, but beautiful in its execution

March 21, 2001
Critical Eye

The directors jump into an impoverished, fast-moving life, and never attempt to put on the brakes for the sake of providing audience comfort.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

This is a film made for purists of the cinema.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for Rosetta

Rosetta is an effective commentary on the social and economic conditions in Belgium through a vivid portrait of a young victim of poverty. Determined.
September 10, 2011
Jan Marc Macababayao

Super Reviewer

"All I want to do when I wake up in the morning is see your eyes, Rosetta, Rosetta!" Yeah, I don't know if this film is quite that upbeat, not necessarily because it's so sad, but because it won the Palm d'Or, therefore, it must not be especially entertaining. It was bound to win it, because it's French-Belgian, about poverty and alcoholism, and is by the Belgian Coen brothers, the Dardenne brothers, which makes it some serious critic bait. I don't know how classy it can be when it reveals something to me that just plain blows my mind: they have trailer parks in Belgium. Maybe I should borrow the title character's stone and get a better understanding of European culture, because this is news to me. As an Alabamian, I can tell you that I am unsure if European cinema can even class that kind of joint up, but so help us all, the Dardennes are going to try. Well, they seem to have satisfied most critics, but if you ask me, although they made this film pretty serious, they didn't exactly make it interesting, despite some efforts.

There's barely anything to the technical value of the film, thus, Alain Marcoen probably couldn't help the grain over his cinematography, but it all works out, as the questionable definition of the filming adds a rugged grit which proves to be more effective in immersing you into this type of drama than the handheld style of the filming. The effectiveness of any form of style in this film hinges on how it is handled by the directorial duo of Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, who seem to either abuse their artistic license any chance they get, or, well, just plain laze out, but distance more often than not either way, though not exactly consistently. Although there is virtually no dynamicity to the tone of this drama, there is some effectiveness to the Dardennes' constant, tediously monotonous meditativeness, and that is because there are occasions in which the brothers find material to meditate on in this promising story concept. Well, maybe it's not exactly the plot concept itself that carries that much potential, - as the lead is unlikable and her trials are relatively light in scale - as much as it's the overall subject matter of this portrait on the struggles of a young woman who comes of age before her time on the back of poverty and looking out for herself, in the place of an unavailable guardian, from a hard world. The very human themes of the film can at least be commended as worthy, and when dramatic heights are reached in this predominantly cold affair, there's no denying that, which isn't to say that you ever forget the weight of this drama, as leading lady Émilie Dequenne, at only seventeen, nails the nuance and emotional layers of this type of struggling youth to carry the final product arguably more than she should. Mind you, a shortage of material holds Dequenne's efforts back, and the problematic drawing of the titular Rosetta character holds back Dequenne's engagement value, but if no one else tries, it's this very important factor in this very meditative character study. Dequenne and some storytelling highlights may be what save the final product from collapsing as contemptible, and yet, with that said, they'd have to work really, really hard to make this film compelling, because at the end of the day, the final product falls flat, particularly with its characterization.

Naturalist in structure, this film really doesn't take any time to flesh out its characters, tossing ultimately inconsequential-feeling supporting roles in and out, and not even putting much exposition into the lead Rosetta character, who is relatable and well-portrayed, but is going to need a lot of exposition before you can get invested in her, due to her being such a problematic lead. I can understand the frustration of Rosetta and her peers, but outside of the charming Fabrizio Rongione's good-hearted Riquet role, no one is likable in this film, and I when I say, "no one", I am largely referring Rosetta, whose dull and angsty attitude, bitterness to everyone around her, - including the well-intentioned - and even doing some seriously low-down deeds for the benefit of herself make her a chore of a lead. Maybe her struggles would be more compelling if they weren't so familiar, because as much as I commend the value of this subject matter, this story is in no moderate way new, even in the way it's told. Seeing as how his is a very European drama, you can probably figure where I'm heading with this, because the reason why there is no exposition is because this is one of those pseudo-experimental, hyper meditative naturalist dramas which lack structure, aimlessly wandering along and trying too hard to establish a sense of realism through a dismissal of score work and a dependence of technical shoddy handheld filming. Wikipedia notes us ignorant Americans' lauding of the lack of score work and of the questionable style as "major factor[s] in [the film's] overall tone", but the irony in such a statement is that without those factors, as well as other elements that try too hard to form naturalism, no tone is formed, or at least not much of one, for although there are effective occasions once direction finds material to draw upon, on the whole, this film lacks resonance, and such a formula is made all the more tedious by sheer monotony. This film's runtime of just barely over 90 minutes is borderline miniscule, but then again, the combination of the story concept and the storytelling style is even more so, thus, this film meanders around and around the same formula of extensive quietness and a whole lot of nothing, and does it all backed by a tone that is thin to begin with, and completely deprived of dynamicity. I suppose I have to give some praise to monotony of the film, as the film is at least too bland to be bad, but make no mistake, it's terribly bland, and often dull, having but a few highlights amidst vacant meanderings, until the final product is secured as flat.

In the end, immersive cinematography and directorial highlights reflect the grit of a worthy story concept, and punctuate a consistent degree of engagement value that is anchored by Émilie Dequenne's nuanced performance, yet the lead and most of her peers are neither well-developed or likable, just as the abstract storytelling style proves to be unoriginal and distancing, and is made all the more tedious by monotonous scripting, until the Dardenne brothers' "Rosetta" falls flat as a generally cold and arguably tedious meditation on coming of age in Belgium in the midst of poverty.

2/5 - Weak
August 1, 2014
Cameron W. Johnson
Cameron Johnson

Super Reviewer

The Dardennes don't make bad films. I have yet to see one that doesn't breathe life into characters at the fringes of society. Rosetta is no exception.
July 27, 2012
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

Rosetta isn't a very likeable character, but I still liked the film.
May 20, 2010

Super Reviewer

    1. Rosetta: Your name is Rosetta. My name is Rosetta. You found a job. I found a job. You've got a friend. I've got a friend. You have a normal life. I have a normal life. You won't fall in a rut. I won't fall in a rut. Good night. Good night.
    – Submitted by Chad E (2 years ago)
View all quotes (1)

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