December 13, 2016No Comments

La Promesse, Dardenne bros, 1996

In The Promise we follow a teenager and his dad. The kid is a petty thief and his dad is his role model. Together, they run an illegal business involving illegal immigrants.  They offer them a job & a place to sleep and then charge them money accordingly. Most of the times the immigrants are being tricked but there’s not much they can do for fear of deportations. One day, one of them falls from a scaffolding to his death, while working. The son & the dad quickly decide to hide his body away. Before dying though, the worker makes the teenager promise him that he’ll take care of his wife & child. A moral dilemma begins. The teen is caught between the guilt and his allegiance to his father.

Just like in Rosetta, the Dardenne brothers portray young adults pushed into difficult situations, cornered by the bad decisions taken by their parents.

Style is stark as always, as only social realism dramas under grey Belgian skies can be.

A narrative of great simplicity and force.

December 7, 2016No Comments

Rosetta, Dardenne bros, 1999

Rosetta is THE archetype of an unstoppable young woman. She’s just barely out of adolescence, taking care of her alcoholic mother with whom she shares a caravan. She’s driven by a survival instinct that makes her constantly rush, not walk, look for jobs everywhere and a way to go about daily life. She’s in this position because the roles in her family have reversed. 

The first scene is a great character establishing one. Rosetta gets fired, the camera is raging around her, and in her anger she starts kicking the owner demanding for the reason of her dumping.

Rosetta has routines: she catches fish in bottles in a pond - to eat. She hides her good shoes in a ditch and slips into her rubber boots when she comes back from town. 

She has a goodnight mantra that she recites in a call and response routine: “"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.“ 

She’s always on the lookout, always ready. She doesn’t have friends and when she almost makes one, she almost lets him drown in a lake. Later, when understand why. There’s no stopping to the complexity of this character. One of the greatest in the last 20 years of cinema.

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