Every day Rosetta (Émilie Dequenne) leaves the caravan she shares with her alcoholic mother and searches for work, for a job that she finds, loses, finds again, is taken from her, that she gets back. She's obsessed by the fear of vanishing, the shame of being a misfit. She wants a normal life just like everybody else, among everybody else.
Rosetta lives a miserable life with her alcoholic mother in a caravan on the edge of a Belgian city. Grimly determined to get enough money to acquire the basic things in life, she is tenacious and single-minded. We first see her being forcibly ejected from a job after being fired, for reasons we never discover. Then she gets a job with a baker, but is displaced by his son. Meanwhile, her mother has sex occasionally with the trailer park manager when she's not drinking herself into a stupor. When Rosetta befriends Riquet, there seems to be the possibility of something more to her life.
Rosetta was the surprise winner at Cannes last year, beating Almodovar's All About My Mother for the Golden Palm; in addition, Emilie Dequenne won Best Actress at the festival, in a shared decision. There's no doubt that this is an extraordinarily powerful depiction of the bleakest imaginable lifestyle, or that Dequenne is utterly, even frighteningly, real in the central role. It's a film in the Ken Loach tradition, and it's filmed with fierce, in-your-face energy by brothers Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne.