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Review | 'Rosalie' is about having the freedom to be yourself

Rosalie | Dir: Stéphanie Di Giusto | ★ ★ ★ ★  ½ 

Set in rural France in the 1870s, Rosalie (Nadia Tereszkiewicz) is deposited by her father at the house belonging to café owner Abel (Benoît Magimal), who is drowning in debt and desperate for the dowry she brings. But the beautiful Rosalie has a secret that Abel will find challenging.

It is only after the wedding vows have been exchanged that Rosalie reveals that she has Hirsutism, a condition that causes excessive hair to grow on her body. This film is a story of someone who is different persevering against ignorance and striving for unconditional love.

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Based on Clémentine Delait, a French bearded lady who found fame in the early 20th century by making the most of her physical attributes while playing with notions of gender, refusing to become a carnival freak and creating her own celebrity.



After shaving her face every day and hiding away, Rosalie (and Clémentine) made a bet that she could grow a beard. She wouldn’t hide her true self anymore and people flocked to the café to see Rosalie even though her husband shunned her affection.

In the nineteenth century, Rosalie would pay the price for trying to live a normal life. Seen as being a threat by some people in the puritan town, fear and hate takes over. The most vocal inhabitants see her as being ‘unnatural’ and use religion, morality and even connections to witchcraft to try to destroy the person who is different.

Director and co-writer Stéphanie Di Giusto points out that the film is mainly about love and having the freedom to accept yourself. “Very few people allow themselves that freedom, probably because they are aware of the price they will have to pay. All my character Rosalie wants is to be herself. Love streams out of Rosalie, like one last message that nullifies hate and differences. She will believe in life.”

Rosalie will screen as part of the AF French Film Festival that runs from 6 March to 2 April – at Luna Leederville, Luna on SX, Luna Outdoor, Windsor Cinema and Palace Raine Square. Go to www.affrenchfilmfestival.org for tickets and further information.

Lezly Herbert


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