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Rosetta is a 17-year-old Italian girl who lives in a trailer park on the outskirts of the Belgian town of Seraing. Drowning in poverty and neglect, she is driven by a need that quickly becomes her singular obsession: securing a steady job and a normal life, but her single-mindedness may lead her to make a choice that she may not be prepared to accept.
For more about Rosetta and the Rosetta Blu-ray release, see Rosetta Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on August 24, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Émilie Dequenne, Olivier Gourmet, Fabrizio Rongione, Anne Yernaux
Directors: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
» See full cast & crew
Rosetta Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, August 24, 2012
Winner of Palme d'Or and Best Actress awards at the Cannes Film Festival, Belgian directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne's "Rosetta" (1999) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The supplemental features on the disc include the film's original French theatrical trailer; exclusive video interview with the Dardenne brothers; and video interviews with actors Emilie Dequenne and Olivier Gourmet. The release also arrives with an illustrated booklet featuring an essay by film critic Kent Jones. In French, with optional English subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked".
Young Rosetta (Emilie Dequenne, Brotherhood of the Wolf, The Girl on the Train) loses her job in a local factory despite the fact that she has been an exemplary employee. Soon after, waffle seller Riquet (Fabrizio Rongione, The Front Line) helps her get a new one at a small bakery and the two begin spending some time together. But then Rosetta is fired again. Barely able to contain her anger, she tells her boss (Olivier Gourmet, La Promesse, Read My Lips) that Riquet is cheating him.
At the caravan park where she has been living with her alcoholic mother (Anne Yernaux), Rosetta regularly confronts men who take advantage of her -- her desperate mother would do things with them either for money or drinks. Eventually Rosetta also confronts her mother but she runs away, and later on pushes her in the nearby river. Rosetta cries for help but her mother ignores her.
Belgian directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne's Rosetta, which won the Palme d'Or and Best Actress awards at the Cannes Film Festival in 1999, is a simple but enormously powerful film that has the DNA of a budget documentary feature. It is structured as a series of uneven episodes, each focusing on an important event from Rosetta's life.
The film is raw and completely devoid of melodrama, at times also unbearably cold. There are many unusually long close-ups and absolutely no music to distract the viewer. The approach creates the impression that the Dardennes were trying to study Rosetta. It also effectively blurs the line that separates reality and fiction.
Rosetta touches the heart in a very special way, but it is virtually impossible to like. It is too real and too honest, a bit like a long news report about a tragedy that immediately grabs one's attention but then makes one feel sad and uncomfortable. Agnes Varda's Vagabond and to a lesser extent Claude Chabrol's Le beau Serge share some of the same rawness, directness and coldness.
The film ends abruptly, just like it begins. The Dardennes' camera, which rarely stands still throughout the film, eventually just pulls out of Rosetta's life. Her story does not end, the Dardennes simply stop filming. As strange as it may sound, this is probably the one and only way the film could have ended.
Dequenne is phenomenal as Rosetta. At no point during the film it feels like she is acting. Her emotions and pains are utterly real. There is one sequence, in particular, in which she places a blow dryer on her belly and then grimaces, where one could literally feel her pain. Rosetta was the Belgian actress' acting debut. (Another great film to see with Dequenne in which she plays a desperate young girl is Claude Berri's Une femme de ménage a.k.a The Housekeeper). Rongione is also excellent as the good-hearted waffle seller. Since Rosetta he has appeared in a number of films directed by the Dardennes, including the Palme d'Or winner The Child, Lorna's Silence, and most recently The Kid With A Bike. Gourmet, another actor who regularly appears in the films the Derdennes direct, has a small but memorable cameo.
Rosetta was lensed by acclaimed cinematographer Alain Marcoen, who has worked with the Dardennes since their days as documentary filmmakers.
Rosetta Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.66:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne's Rosetta arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.
The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray release:
"Supervised by director of photography Alain Marcoen, this new high-definition digital transfer was created on a Spirit 2K Datacine from a 35mm blowup interpositive. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitter, and flicker were manually removed using MTI's DRS and Pixel Farm's PFClean.
Transfer supervisors: Lee Kline, Alain Marcoen.
Colorist: Giovanni Zimolo/Eclair, Paris."
The majority of the film looks quite soft. Considering the fact that it was shot in Super 16 this should not be surprising, but there is also light noise that further affects definition and clarity. Where light is restricted, the softness also affects color depth, and black levels in particular. The good news here is that there are no traces of post-production sharpening and contrast boosting. Naturally, the film still has the organic look it ought to have, but it is obvious that the blowup interpositive that was used to create the new high-definition transfer had some limitations. There are no serious stability issues. Scratches, cuts, debris, and warps are also nowhere to be seen. All in all, the Blu-ray release clearly represents an upgrade in quality over previous DVD releases of the film, but I feel that the technical presentation could have been even more convincing. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you mist have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Rosetta Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: French DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. For the record, Criterion have provided optional English subtitles for the main feature.
The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray release:
"The original 2.0 surround soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from the 35mm magnetic tracks. Clicks, thumps, hiss, and hum were manually removed using Pro Tools HD. Crackle was attenuated using AudioCube's integrated workstation."
Like the overwhelming majority of the films the Dardennes have directed, Rosetta has a very modest sound design. Unsurprisingly, there is a limited range of dynamics. The dialog, however, is very crisp, clean, and stable. The film does not have a prominent soundtrack. Naturally, there are no balance issues either. Lastly, there are no dropouts or problematic audio distortions to report in this review. The English translation is excellent.
Rosetta Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Rosetta Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The only other film that I have seen in recent years that comes close to matching the intensity of Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne's Rosetta is Ramin Bahrani's Man Push Cart. Rosetta is a tremendous, incredibly powerful film, one that has inspired many directors to imitate it. It is cinema verite at its very best. Kudos to Criterion for adding yet another essential film to their spectacular collection. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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