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It's not a pleasant experience being absent of a job, despite what some lazy people may want you to believe (luckily, I`m one of those lazy people with employment). While it might seem great to have all the time in the world in your hands; to not have to punch a timeclock for someone who gives you grief, not receiving any money is a small drawback to having no responsibilities in the workforce. Welfare isn`t so hot either, because in some cases at the very least, you would be making more money by working, and welfare can`t always pay the bills. The flipside is when somebody really wants to look for work, but can`t find any. The frustration arises when one can`t find, or, even worse, keep a job. You may find such difficulties very nasty, but would you act as Rosetta does when she can`t keep a job. I really hope you don't!

Rosetta is about one crazy job seeker. Granted, she`s nuts because she is in a dire situation. She lives in a trailer park, where her mother is a drunk and under the landlord`s becking call, as he gives her booze and expects sexual favours. This all means that Rosetta has to run the household, yet this is very difficult when she can`t keep a job to save her life. And she does not go quietly when asked to leave. There are two scenes in this movie in which she openly attacks people in vain hope that she can keep her job, including the first scene in which she beats up her boss and then runs away from security, and the direction is so fast-paced and dizzying, that if you turned on the video at this point, you may start mistaking this for a really cheap chase movie.

The true plot of the movie involves her relationship with a young man who works at a waffle stand. She is able to get a job working at his boss's food production plant, but a few weeks later she is let go, and, yet again, creates a scene, including one pathetic moment where she continues frantically to do the job (pouring a bag of flour into the large tanks), and when the boss tries to take the bag from her, she falls to the ground, desperately clutching the bag. After this scene, things truly get bizarre, as Rosetta subtly weasels her way into her supposed friend`s territory. He tries to help her out, but she wants it all, and to do this, she commits not one but two shocking acts.

Well, clearly Rosetta is one disturbed girl. Somehow I find her a bit unbelievable - sure, some people get mad, but would they really do what they do, including (spoiler!) attempt to murder her friend so she could take over his job. Overall, she is not a very interesting person, because she is insanely obsessed with getting work. This is evident when the friend gets a surprise visit from Rosetta, and attempts to give her good company. She mopes about at the dinner table, does not enjoy herself when he offers her to dance to his band`s music, and then suddenly gets cramps (something which happens often in the film) and runs off, as if she is somehow getting too close to another person. Perhaps she is afraid because she sees what happens to other women (like her mom) who find themselves with men who turn out to be monsters. And on that score, there is a really odd and ugly little moment in which it seems as if this guy is trying to rape her. This is when he comes over to the house on his motorbike and tells her that his boss will hire her. What he actually does is come over, and, as Rosetta looks in shock at the fact that he knows where she lives, then throws her down on the ground, and proceeds to trap her with his fondling and aggression, before saying what he came over to say. What the f-- is this for?? The truth is that Rosetta does not see him as a friend, but as an obstacle, which would be apparent without the attempted rape, but with it, you wonder if there is not something symbolic in her attempts to discard him. Maybe this is her revenge for what has happened to people like her and her mother.

No matter what the issues are, she is not a very sympathetic character. Her actions make you wonder if you really ought to be rooting for this girl. No doubt this would be a good instructional tape for managers, as it outlines the type of personality you don`t want working in your establishment (One who doesn`t beat up the employees, one who doesn`t murder as a form of promotion, etc, etc). Too bad that this movie wasn`t made before one of my employers hired somebody who capped off her illustrious career in the restaurant business by promptly pounding the crap out of another waitress when the tossing of utensils wouldn`t do the trick.

The film`s style evokes two sources: the Dogma approach, with the hand-held cameras, the absence of a soundtrack, and raw performances (although this does not look anywhere near as cheap as, say, The Celebration), and, also, Robert Bresson (Mouchette), with the film`s depicting of grinding poverty and its psychological effects, and the director`s insistence on showing mundane activity in its entirety. I enjoyed this film for its daring to depict such a crazed character, and for its technical influnences, although it does occassionally drag during its attempts to imitate Bresson. Overall, Rosetta is a good example of a very non-Hollywood film can look like.

David Macdonald

David Macdonald's Movie Reviews

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