Rosetta (1999)

Original Title : Rosetta
Director : Jean-Pierre Dardenne
Luc Dardenne
Writer : Jean-Pierre Dardenne
Luc Dardenne
Genre : Drama
Country : France
Language : French
Producer : Jean-Pierre Dardenne , Luc Dardenne , Laurent Pétin , Michèle Pétin , Arlette Zylberberg
Music : Jean-Pierre Cocco
Photography : Alain Marcoen
Distributor : ARP Sélection [fr]
MPAA Rating : Rated R for language.
IMDB ID : 0200071
Official site :
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poster for "Rosetta" by Jean-Pierre Dardenne | Luc Dardenne (1999)
Rosetta (1999) - Jean-Pierre Dardenne | Luc Dardenne


Émilie Dequenne Rosetta
Fabrizio Rongione Riquet
Fabrizio Rongione Riquet


The first scene, like almost all others, is a fighting scene. A girl, about 18, is sacked from her factory work because her trial period is over. The girl, Rosetta, is quite upset and the cops will have to arrive to get her out. She has her reasons: she lives in a caravan, with her alcoholic mother. She goes looking for work as some go to the war. Treasons, murders are in her mind, if not in her acts.


It's a hard life -- crude and bitter medicine: harsh poverty unabashedly delivered and desperation complete This is beyond the intensity of Gary Oldman's "Nil By Mouth", and Tim Roth's "The War Zone", while Erick Zonca's "Dreamlife of Angels" seems heavenly compared to the conditions presented in "Rosetta" by Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne. A down right harsh film. Unsparingly direct depiction of a young girl's poverty struggle. She is as tough as she can be. She fights vigorously to hang on to a job. She cares for her mother, a helpless alcoholic, and a seamstress when not drunk. Rosetta (Emilie Dequenne) is unrelentingly stubborn about receiving kindness, or food unsolicited. She has her dignity. A young person with so much burden on her shoulder and a heavy heart. Things may be seemingly repetitive: again and again we see her crossing that traffic roadway, jumping into the bush trail, we hear the rustling leaves, the thumping of her footsteps, we watch her stopping by the hideout where she kept her rubber boots, changing her only good pair of working shoes, we follow her as she crawls through the wire fence loophole, arriving at the campers-- feels like a mindless routine.Yet, she's intensely single-minded on getting "a real job" (vs. moonlighting) and to have "a normal life", not to "fell into a rut". At one point, we can almost be happy for her to have "found a friend" in Riquet (Fabrizio Rongione), a waffle street van vendor. She actually was able to peacefully sleep that night. Only to wake up and report at work to be told she's again out of a job. A devastating blow. Out of desperation, she did something that most of us viewers may not be able to comprehend -- but what do we know of her travails, who are we to judge her action? It was not easy for her to have done what she did -- she did hesitate and took the risk. She risked her newfound friendship -- she desperately needed "to have a job". In a way, she has lack tenderness, love and warmth for so long that she's numb to human kindness -- she needs to be thawed! One has to be patient with her, to give her time and see through her tough surface and rekindle her heart.Trust needs to be rebuilt for her to continue living and tackle difficulties afresh! This is no Hollywood fare. Dialogs are few. No exploitative, explosive, abusive scenes. We're given the bare structure of the story, and Rosetta, plus the sparing few supporting characters, held the movie steadily intact.
poster for "Rosetta"
264 x 475
Rosetta (1999) - Jean-Pierre Dardenne | Luc Dardenne