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  • Writer's pictureJamie

Rosalie - Review

A French film about a woman who grows a beard and questions the ideals of those around her when it comes to femininity and accepting yourself for who you are? Yes I’ll be there, thank you. It is also set in a rural French village in the early 1900s? I’m hitting up the middle seat now. I had to be centre of the action for Rosalie, seeing every beard hair and bigoted side character head on.

Rosalie not only delivers a beautiful story, but it also showcases stunning visuals for the entire candlelit runtime. It also happens to be based on the life of a real cafe owning bearded woman, which absolutely rocks.

Rosalie (Nadia Tereszkiewicz) lives with her father, and is preparing to be taken with him to meet her husband, Abel Deluc (Benoît Magimel). Side note, it was so hard to separate Benoît from his character in The Taste of Things, because he is a perfect being in that film, the flaws he has in Rosalie made me want to forgive him so bad.

Anyway, the pair start off quite strongly, until Abel sees Rosalie’s body hair and beard begin to grow. He is repulsed and angry at her for selling him a lie. Rosalie rebels against this distaste, realising that people will pay to see her as she is an “anomaly”. Not everyone is quite on board with this, having similar, if not worse reactions than Abel did. However, people come and stay at Abel’s cafe after Rosalie debuts her beard. She takes care of it, looking poised and feminine in how she dresses and presents. The critics start to rise up, and get more and more invested in stopping Rosalie, while Abel begins to look inside and face his prejudice toward his new wife.

The story is small, but very impactful. I also don’t think the message of “be yourself” is delivered in a way that comes across juvenile or overt. The story is elegant and careful, knowing that it could be perceived as a very pandering type of film if done in the wrong way. It gives Rosalie enough of a character around her beard that she isn’t just that, and neither are any of the people around her. They are rounded in their own ways, that make them feel less caricatures in an after school PSA, and more like people. I think it is very realistic for this story to have characters included in the film too. The film is set between the late 1800s and early 1900s as far as my unknowable guess can assume, but I don’t think the attitudes of the film are all that far away from how people would react today.

There’s quite a small detail that I wanted to talk about very quickly because of how intentional it feels. There are a lot of shots of Rosalie’s dresses in the film, which she seems to make most of. These ornate and formal gowns stand out from what the other women wear in the film, and yet Rosalie has no problem wearing them where she is. She wears them in a place with undeveloped roads, meaning all the bottoms of them are rubbing off the grass and mud of the town. She is completely unbothered by her work being muddied. My wording is going to be direct here, but I think its more than this. It makes Rosalie feel more grounded as a character, she is not rebelling against a system while feeling above it. She lives in the world she walks in, and wants to just be accepted in that, live a normal life as someone who doesn’t exactly conform to the ideals of those around her.

While discussing the shots of her dress, the wider shots are also just as important, with stunning production design and lighting to compliment it. The camera work is really soft, existing in the space with the characters, knowing when to hold back, taking in the rooms, or get in close for moments of intimacy or conflict. The music in the film is used sparingly, allowing for a lot of space, I don’t think the lack of music really worked for me but I feel like I understand the objective of the decision.

I am still conflicted on the ending of this film, not spoiling, just be prepared for one that I think will weigh on you. It's a decision that I think people will either love or hate, or be like me, and take their time to decide it. Overall though, Rosalie is a stunning little film and it upsets me that it won’t be seen by everyone. Without being on the nose, I think it’s a great film to teach tolerance and understanding between us all.


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