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LOCARNO 2021 Piazza Grande

Review: Rose


- Aurélie Saada’s first fiction feature is a personal and sensitive portrait of a woman rebelling against the stereotypes created by a society which has chosen to cast her aside

Review: Rose
Françoise Fabian in Rose

The musician (of the musical duo Brigitte) and now also director Aurélie Saada delighted the Locarno Film Festival audience by presenting her first feature film Rose [+see also:
film profile
, a mainstream comedy which never slides into entertainment for entertainment’s sake, in the evocative setting of the Piazza Grande.

Rose is a light and enjoyable film, a feel-good movie which urges us to believe that anything is possible at any age. But the director also manages to transform this lightness into tenderness and into a wider reflection on the meaning of life once we arrive at the fateful “third age”, resulting in a mainstream comedy looking to win over a significant number of viewers, but also a poetic and highly personal portrait of a woman who decides to take control of her own destiny.

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Rose (played by the iconic Françoise Fabian) is a 78-year-old Parisian who has built a life for herself around two main roles, as a wife and a mother (and later as a grandmother). Surrounded by her offspring, with her husband by her side, Rose seems to be enjoying a moment of happiness in the film’s opening scene, at a party with friends and family hailing from the capital’s Tunisian Jewish community. Shortly afterwards, her husband passes away and Rose finds herself alone, dethroned as the matriarch of a tribe which no longer seems to need her. The protagonist finds herself in the throes of an emotional upheaval with unexpected and cathartic consequences. What is her place within a family which has inevitably lost its glue? How can she impose her presence in a society which places sole value and emphasis on youthfulness and performance (in all domains)?

Aurélie Saada seems to want to tell us, by way of Rose, that age is only relative, a social construct whose only goal is to make human beings docile and compliant. Rose shows us that it’s never too late to start the fight against conformism, and that the right to exist and to voice your own desires doesn’t fade away with the passing of time. The director claims to have wanted to reflect upon the challenges that “women” have to face growing older within a society which would have them fresh, alluring and seductive. “Rose is the story of a private revolution embarked upon by someone who realises, on the cusp of her 80th birthday, that she’s not just a grandmother or a widow; she’s a woman who has the right to assert her own desires”, Saada explains in respect of her main character. The intention is clearly interesting, but in her quest to eliminate stereotypes the director also seems to create them, namely the social construction of the female gender on the basis of a body which must first seduce in order to find its equilibrium, and an understanding of “woman” which is still based on the traditional roles of wife and mother (albeit reconstructed in a freer, more independent form). That said, the magnetic presence of Françoise Fabian (who starred in Louis Malle’s The Thief of Paris and My Night with Maud to name just two prime examples of her prestigious back-catalogue) endows Rose’s character with a powerful and universal air which reaches far beyond genders and generations. Ultimately, Rose is an exuberant and poetic comedy carried by a brilliant actress who proves that class and talent are truly ageless.

Rose is produced by Silex Films (France) and Germaine Films (France) in co-production with France 3 Cinéma, Les Productions du Couscous and Apollo Films. International sales are entrusted to Kinology.

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(Translated from Italian)

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