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Rosalie Film Review: Beautiful & Heartbreaking

The Picturehouse poster for the 2024 film Rosalie

Stéphanie Di Giusto’s latest film, Rosalie is a beautifully crafted movie with incredible acting and tragic undertones.

Director: Stéphanie Di Giusto
Genre: Drama, Historical
Run Time: 115′
UK & Irish Release: June 7, 2024
US Release: TBA
Where to watch: in cinemas

Directed by Stéphanie Di Giusto, who also co-wrote the script with Sandrine Le Coustumer, Rosalie is a fascinating film with a unique premise and a beautiful visual style. It premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2023, where it competed for the Queer Palm, in the Un Certain Regard section.

The movie is loosely based on the real-life story of Clémentine Delait, a French café owner who became one of the most famous and celebrated bearded ladies in France in the second half of the 19th century.

Set in 1870s Brittany, Rosalie is centred around the titular character (Nadia Tereszkiewicz) as she travels to a small village far from where she grew up to meet Abel (Benoît Magimel, of The Taste of Things). Abel is in debt from owning the local café and marries Rosalie for her dowry, but he does not know that his now-wife is hiding a secret. As the film goes on, we find out that Rosalie is a bearded lady. Fearing that she would be rejected by society and the people around her for her appearance, Rosalie has been forced to shave ever since she was a kid, but what will happen when she gets tired of pretending?

The camera work is the most fascinating aspect of the film. I particularly loved how Rosalie is framed during the movie after the first half, when the audience finally sees her with a beard. Before she debuts her beard for the first time, there is a long sequence that builds anticipation for the moment we will actually see Rosalie in her true form. This helps create tension: we witness Rosalie getting ready  but her face is not actually shown,  Therefore, when she is finally portrayed with her beard , it feels like a revelation and a spectacle the audience is lucky enough to witness.

A man looks at a bearded woman in the 2024 film Rosalie
Rosalie (© 2023 Tresor Films – Gaumont – LDRPII – Artémis Productions, Picturehouse)

The acting is also very impressive in Rosalie: Nadia Tereszkiewicz  especially shines in her performance as she embodies the main character perfectly, making us feel every emotion she goes through as she is discriminated against just for her looks, something that many people in the audience will be able to relate to even in today’s society. Benoît Magimel is also incredible as Abel, a complex character that the audience eventually learns to sympathise with. They are both successful at showing every layer of their respective characters, in all their complexities and character growth.

Although the film is heavily centred on Rosalie and Abel, I could not help but wish that Rosalie also had given more screen time to the side characters, who would have been equally fascinating to explore. The little time they have is also detrimental to the narrative as a whole, as the villains feel somewhat one-dimensional and have little to no character growth. Much of the conflict in the movie comes from other characters, who represent the way society views Rosalie, but it would have been more impactful to see the antagonists’ motivations and the way their thoughts and actions are shaped by the society of the time.

Unfortunately, Rosalie’s heartbreaking ending is somewhat predictable from the very beginning of the movie: after all, it is sadly the only possible ending for a story like this during that historical time. I also found the pacing too slow in the second half: while the stakes are higher than ever, it seems like the film spends too much time setting up the various conflicts that stand in Rosalie’s path, rushing an inevitable finale that most of the audience will have probably already seen coming.

Interview: Nadia Tereszkiewicz on Rosalie – Loud And Clear Reviews
We sit down with the lead actress of Rosalie, Nadia Tereszkiewicz, for an interview about her new film, femininity, and her career so far.

Overall, despite some issues in its pacing and character development, Rosalie is a wonderful film with beautiful cinematography and clever use of its camera work. The heartbreaking story portrayed in the movie will resonate with the audience in one way or another, making the final scene even more sad. Its themes also speak to today’s world with its reflection on gender roles and the discrimination women faced both in the 1870s and today.

Rosalie will open in cinemas across the UK & Ireland on June 7, 2024. Read our review of Corsage!

Rosalie: Trailer (Picturehouse)
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