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Rose

1 rating: 3.0
A movie directed by Mark Rydell

In this authentic, entertaining, and tragic film, Bette Midler plays Rose, a talented but exhausted, alcoholic rock star whose entire life is controlled by her cutthroat manager, Rudge (Alan Bates). Taking a bleak look at the downside of the music industry, … see full wiki

Director: Mark Rydell
Release Date: 1979
MPAA Rating: R
1 review about Rose

The Rose - 1979

  • Jan 12, 2010
Rating:
+3
Pros: Bette Midler, hands down ... music

Cons: none for me

The Bottom Line:
"It's the one who won't be taken,
who cannot seem to give,
and the soul afraid of dyin'
that never learns to live."
~Amanda McBroom

Once in a while I like to revisit an older movie that I particularly liked when released to see if I still felt the same way about it. I also do this to ground me after I’ve slogged through a bazillion really bad movies, just to freshen my movie soul. I chose the 1979 release of The Rose, just to see if it still held that spark of magic I felt way back when.

It states, on IMDB, that this is loosely based on the life of Janis Joplin. I know very few of her songs, never saw her perform. Therefore, I have to idea how true to form this follows. It also states that director Mark Rydell said he wouldn’t do the show unless he could have Bette Midler for the lead role. Frankly, I can’t imagine anyone else conquering this spot. Perhaps that is just tainted because I have seen her performance on the film but, truthfully, I can’t think of another performer at that time that could have put the dynamic into the role that she did.

It is a tragic story, the downfall of a human always is tragic. How people that appear in the public spotlight attempt to have a normal life, I have no idea. We won’t let them and, for the most part, they don’t want us to. Granted, they do want their private moments, like everyone else, but once they have stepped into the spotlight, they have to know their private time will forever be limited.

The Rose follows a short stint in the life of Mary Rose Foster, known to the public as The Rose. Coming from a small town in Florida where her lifestyle wasn’t always the best or appreciated, she is now a record breaking recording star. The audience is always packed with adoring fans, she is a dynamic performer with tons of crowd charisma. Her life is hectic, unsettled, constantly jetting from place to place, town to town.

Like most, she wants a real life. Home, family, white picket fence. But for her this is not to be. To compensate, she drinks and does light drugs, nothing heavy. But she is exhausted, worn to the bone tired and wants to take a break. Of course, in this business, at least in those times, one cannot afford to take a break. There are 20 others out there willing and able to take your public place. Now, of course, public figures retire for several years and then make a come-back or some are on an eternal ‘final tour’ that never seems to complete.

When Rose falls into a relationship with an AWOL Army guy, posing as a chauffeur, her life has that one chance to change. But habits are hard to break and the lure of the crowd is always calling.

One cannot say this is an outstanding movie. The script itself is weak and flimsy and the only thing that makes the entire production worthwhile is the performance by Bette Midler. This was at an outstanding part of her life. She had a couple of small parts on film, nothing really good, behind her so she was accustomed to the camera. What she was, though, was a crowd person. I’ve seen several of her older concerts, when she was a bit rough and raw, and this role was perfectly designed for a performer of her temperament and caliber.

One of the major highlights of the movie was the impromptu performance in the small nightclub with the group of drag queens. They absolutely killed Fire Down Below and Rose seemed to shine at her happiest point. Another was her final performance, finally returning to her hometown to give them the old “Look at me now folks” as she is walking to the stage. She is beaten, broken. Drunk and drugged, she can barely stand but once she reaches the apron edge of the stage she squares her shoulders and swaggers out just as always.

There is one point, small but memorable, when her manager, Rudge, finally realizes he may have pushed her too far. A look of abject sadness briefly crosses his face. During most of the film, however, he is the task master, always demanding more from her.

Joining in the cast are Alan Bates as Rudge; Frederic Forrest as Huston Dyer, her new love interest; Harry Dean Stanton in a cameo appearance as Billy Ray, a rather snooty singer; David Keith as Pfc. Mal, one of the boys she drags along for the ride; and Doris Roberts as a cameo as her mother.

The music is a cast member on its’ own with an outstanding soundtrack which includes:
Whose Side Are You On
Midnight in Memphis
When a Man Loves a Woman
Sold My Soul to Rock-n-Roll
Keep On Rockin
Love Me With A Feeling
Stay With Me
Camellia
Let Me Call You Sweetheart
Fire Down Below
The Rose

Written by Bo Goldman and Bill Kerby, the movie was nominated for 13 awards which includes 4 Oscars, winning 4 total. Both Midler and Forrest were nominated for an Oscar for their roles. The ratings seem to waver around the NC-17 mark but do keep in mind the language was rather salty at times and the movie included a lot of alcohol and drug use. Of course, it is alcohol, not cigarettes, so I guess it is acceptable.

It is a sad interpretation of one persons life, even loosely taken. A horrible course to take to achieve a small goal.  For me the magic was still there.

Thanks,
Susi

Recommended:
Yes

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