Spiritually Significant Film

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Rosetta (1999)

Rosetta placed first on the 2005 Arts & Faith Top100 List of Spiritually Significant Films, and while that's partly due to the survey's methodology favoring lesser-known movies, the fact remains that a whole batch of Christian cinephiles rank this film up there with classic religious pictures that more easily come to mind.

Rosetta lives very much in the same universe as the Dardennes' other major films one of the most artistically and thematically unified bodies of work to be found in cinema.

This is a world of parents and children, of murders and near-murders and Abraham-Isaac catastrophes, of hatred and love co-mingled, of fierce loyalties and heart-sickening betrayals. This is a workplace world, where routine physical tasks are performed and money changes hands. Poverty, survival, and desperation are here along with crime and law; moral decisions are worked out somewhere between resourcefulness and sin.

This is a world populated by unvarnished, unsentimental characters who draw us to themselves not by their attractivenes, but by their naked and undeniable humanity. The stakes are life and death, with story-lines that drive relentlessly toward a moment of truth, an irreversible point of confrontation. Hand-held cameras. Abrupt endings.

Having mulled this story for some time now, pondering the puzzle of its hidden spirituality, I come down to this: At the core of Rosetta are a pair of questions. What will this girl do to get and keep a job? And in her world of marginal survival, is there anything more important? The answers, as embodied in this tough and uncompromising story, come very close to both the bad news and the good news at the heart of the gospel.

Summary by Ron Reed

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Directed by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
95 minutes
Primary language(s): French