Film Club: The Rose


Film Club returns for March with a film that many of you may not have heard of. The Rose, from 1979, stars Bette Midler as the title character in a film that is the definition of sex, drugs and rock & roll. The IMDb has this synopsis for us: “The tragic life of a self-destructive female rock star who struggles to deal with the constant pressures of her career and the demands of her ruthless business manager.”

The Rose was chosen by the lovely Reut of The Sweet Archive. Below are her reasons for choosing the film, followed by each members thoughts on the film.

The reason I chose The Rose for this month’s Film Club is very simple. The Rose is a classic film. I’m into classic films. I’m also into music, so… you do the math. I’ve heard plenty of good things about The Rose and know that it’s highly appreciated in cinema history. I figured it would be an appropriate first choice for me. Hope my fellow bloggers feel the same. Enjoy!


The Sweet Archive:

“You know, you know sometimes, sometimes people say to me, Rose, when’s the first time you ever heard the blues? And you know what I tell ’em? The day i was born. You know why? You know why? ‘Coz i was born a woman.” – The Rose.

The tragic story of vivacious rock star, Rose (a.k.a The Rose) who struggled to find balance between her demanding manager, a rising career and her personal life. Tired of it all, Rose requests to take a year off after her closing performance in her home town of Philadelphia. She encounters a strong refusal from her manager who explains the risk caused by the singer’s absence and urges her to keep going.

I’ll begin this review with high praises. Rose’s voice and energetic presence is absolutely spectacular and unforgettable. This petit woman lets out such strong vocal abilities and a wild performance and rocks out the stage. She is an artist of immense talent and it shows throughout the entire film. I just loved it. Rose is a rock n’ roll queen when she performs, owning the stage and the crowd and I absolutely wish I could go to a concert and rock out to her crazy tunes.

Despite of her onstage success, she is not so much in control when off the stage. Rose’s capricious behavior and free spirited life style lead her to carelessness, exhaustion and eventual self-destruction. Continuously demanding a year off, she cannot seem to take a break from herself, the love for drugs and booze and constant touring from one city to another. Her love affairs constantly run aground, and it seems as if her real relationship is solely with her manager, Rudge.

The plot is indirectly based on the story of rock n’ roll legend Janis Joplin and was originally named “Peal” after Joplin’s nickname, however, the idea changed when rejected by Joplin’s family who did not allow the rights to her story.

The Rose is directed by Mark Rydell and starring Bette Midler in her debut performance and the role of her life time, Alan Bates as her manager, Frederic Forrest, and Harry Dean Stanton. It was nominated for four academy awards including Best Leading Actress with Midler winning, Best Acting in Supporting Role with Forrest winning, Best Editing and Best Sound. The Rose’s soundtrack was performed entirely by Bette Midler and ends with one of her biggest hit singles “The Rose”.

Rydell intended to present some sort of closure by starting and ending the film with two great performances creating a cinematic mirage of the singer’s life. Not all that shines is gold. A strong lesson on the price of fame and glory in the “Drugs, sex and rock n’ roll” times. The style and fashion in that decade and in this film was very much to my liking. I particularly fancied Rose’s sequin dresses and hippie outfits which perfectly contributed to her dynamic being and performing. However, I struggled to keep up with Rose’s life as a whole. I sometimes found myself slightly exhausted by this woman’s blazing attitude. She’s what I would call, a human firework… a roller coaster, even. She’s exciting and you have great fun, however end up with a spinning head and an overwhelming feeling.

Rating: 9.5/10


What About the Twinkie?:

Admittedly, The Rose is not the type of film I would normally look for when wanting to kill a few hours, but the beauty of Film Club is that we get drawn to films we wouldn’t normally give a second glance to. With that, I have conflicting views towards The Rose. To some degree, it’s a highly interesting look at the life of a rock star and how that seemingly fantastic lifestyle can be brought down through substance abuse and a destructive personality. On the other hand, it’s a repetitious film where it can be hard to care for the main character as she makes the same mistakes over and over again, never learning or attempting to better herself.

Of course one might argue that The Rose’s self destructive nature leads to such mistakes, and the reason she keeps making them is because she is lost in a world she has grown out of love with. This may be true, but her lack or redemption becomes defining for the film. Yet, it makes the whole journey that more tragic. Her immaturity and volcanic outbursts rile many, but are they cries for help that no one answered? It makes for interesting viewing, but never quite grips you in the way I imagine it was hoped.

A shame them, as many of the performances here are really quite good. Bette Midler does some of her finest work, and really shines in the musical numbers. Frederic Forrest and Alan Bates are the two men in her life, as her lover and her manager, and despite their roles they both arguably love her and are frustrated with her to the same degree.

Some elements of the film are fascinating to behold, even if the film never seems to find its rhythm. Like its star, The Rose is all over the place and as a whole never quite hits the mark.

Rating: 6/10


Ten Stars or Less:

The Rose turned out to be the hardest movie I have ever searched the internet for. I looked high and then I looked low, I tried all the sites that rent movies and had zero luck. After weeks of trying and then giving up I found a horrible version on some site that had a lot of pop up ads and probably gave my MacBook something I will never find or fix. It was of very poor quality but the story, acting, and songs really stood out from the somewhat fuzzy picture on my screen. When we were presented with this month’s Film Club selection, I have to admit after reading it’s IMDb page, I thought this was going to be a horrible movie, but I was quick to judge the book by it’s cover and ended up being surprised at the end.

Bette Milder steals the show here as Mary Rose Foster, the troubled superstar singer the movie is based upon. It would be hard to imagine someone that would be able to pull off such a crazy character with so much ease. Milder can play those over the top big ego characters flawlessly, while having an amazing set of lungs to belt out some powerful/meaningful songs. The Rose takes place in the 1970’s which some would argue gave us some of the best musical groups and songs in history. It was a time when everyone was on something or did something and just rolled from city to city to live out their rock star dreams. Mary Rose Foster is in a horrible relationship with her manager and would do just about anything to find a suitable guy to settle down with and leave the bright lights behind.

The pressure mounts every day as Mary, who was a nobody in high school, is setting up her cross country tour to end in her hometown. No matter how many beers she drinks, joints she smokes, and one night stands she has, Mary’s goal is to perform for a sold out audience in her hometown. Coming home is the most important thing to her because she so desperately wants to feel appreciated and loved. Even with the sold out audiences across the country, the feeling of singing at the top of her lungs for complete strangers is never going be enough for her until she makes it big back home.

Substance abuse is a major problem for all walks of people across the globe. It doesn’t matter what culture they are from, there’s something out there that someone could get addicted to, to help ease any pain or suffering. Mary Rose Foster has one of the brightest futures in rock ‘n’ roll for a woman, but continues to surround herself with the wrong people feeding her poor advice. She’ll turn to the bottle to help ease the pain she feels inside from broken relationships and a self accessed failed career. It’s sad to think someone with so much promise would lead such a train wreck life, but if you read the gossip magazines you’ll come to realize that being a celebrity brings on a certain amount of pressures even the best can’t handle. The Rose turns into a sad story of what happens when someone lets the pressure get to them and causes them to self-destruct.

The Rose wouldn’t be for everyone and only one of my friends have actually seen it before. Milder was actually amazing as Mary Rose Foster and deserved the Golden Globe and Oscar Nomination she received. It was her performance coupled with her voice that really made The Rose worth a watch, to remind us that being a celebrity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Rating: 6/10


HC Movie Reviews:

Once again I enjoyed the fact that I hadn’t seen nor even heard of this month’s choice of film. However once I read a short synopsis of the film I was pretty sure that it wasn’t really my kind of movie.

My biggest problem with The Rose was that I didn’t like the title character. Due to this the film was always going to have an uphill battle trying to engage me. I have to be honest when I say that I don’t think I really engaged with this film at all bar a few moments of humour. I just had no sympathy for Bette Midler’s character; I simply thought that she was immature and irritating. Midler does perform well for the most part, however there were a few occasions at the start of the film where she failed to convince me, I don’t know much about the Academy Awards in 1979 but Midler’s nomination for best actress kind of baffles me. The rest of the cast are fine too, but again my lack of in the interest in the film prevented me from really investing anything in any one of the characters.

I found the whole film a complete drag, ok so some of the songs were catchy enough but anytime this was the case these performance scenes just went on way too long. However, her on stage antics were always more entertaining to watch than when she wasn’t performing. The events off stage where just so monotonous, the same things would just happen over and over again with the same result each time. I really didn’t see the point in any of this. There is one scene near the start of the film which offered a bit of variety and thankfully some humour but after this scene the whole film just descends into mind-numbing boredom.

Right from the start I knew that The Rose wasn’t for me and as I watched the film this was confirmed for me. I just didn’t buy any of it and I couldn’t bring myself to engage with anything I was watching. I struggle to see what anyone could really enjoy from this film, as I say I knew it wasn’t going to appeal to my tastes. Hopefully some of my Film Club friends can enlighten me as to what can be enjoyed from this film though!

Rating: 2/10


Movie Rob:

This movie was the first choice for Film Club that I had never seen or actually even heard of and I was eager to see if it could meet the standards of all of the previous choices.

It was an interesting choice because it’s a pseudo-biopic that is based mainly on the life of Janis Joplin. The first thing that shocked me was how young and thin Bette Midler looked here.

Midler has a great voice and stage presence and obviously manages to convincingly perform all of the musical numbers realistically.
The problem with this movie is that although it deals with an interesting topic of fame and its effects on people, apart from the musical scenes, it felt very hollow and boring.

I kept wanting something to happen but it just chugged along slowly, gave us more great music and then bored me once again when the music eventually stopped. I wanted to care about the main character and her problems, but personally I couldn’t find much to sympathize with. The movie slightly talks about her parents and people from the “old” neighborhood, but it wasn’t explored as much as it should have been.

I hadn’t realized beforehand that the theme song was so popular and familiar to me. I recall hearing it many times in my youth on the radio and the song (as it plays over the credits) is truly the high point of the movie.

Rating: 4/10


Silver Screen Serenade:

Okay, before I get down to business, I just wanted to thank Kieron for inviting me to join Film Club! I’ve been a faithful reader of this for a while, but this is my first stint on here, and I’m thrilled to jump in! Many thanks for letting me join the party! 🙂

Anyway, time to discuss why we’re all here: The Rose. I’ll be completely honest: I’d never even heard of The Rose before this, and once I looked into it, I put off watching it for a long while. Just…didn’t seem like my thing. It’s never one I would’ve picked for myself. In fact, I doubt I ever would’ve watched it if it hadn’t been for Film Club. Sure, it was nominated for four Oscars, and Bette Midler is supposed to be fantastic in it, and blah blah blah. Even so, heavy dramas aren’t normally my thing. Fortunately, I found some things to appreciate in The Rose.

Let’s start with the obvious topic: Bette Freaking Midler. It’s kind of embarrassing how little I’ve seen of Midler. When I thought of her prior to watching this film, my mind automatically went to Hocus Pocus—another fantastic performance, of course, but The Rose has allowed me to see her in a whole new light. She plays Janis Joplin-esque rock star Rose incredibly well, putting so much energy and conviction into all of the character’s highs and lows. And her singing. I mean, damn. I knew the woman could sing, but she absolutely kills it. I thought Midler was more inclined toward musical theater, but her range is clearly wider than I realized. She sings her rock songs like a pro. Frankly, I don’t know how she didn’t blow out her vocal chords. The concert scenes were among my favorites. They’re just awesome.

The film as a whole is an impressive emotional journey that keeps your interest—even if some moments are a bit melodramatic. I’m not sure how closely the film follows Joplin’s life (since it so clearly draws inspiration from it), but if the singer’s life was even remotely like this craziness, then yikes.

I think what bothers me most about the film is how repetitive it is. Rose makes the same mistakes (especially in her relationships) over and over again. I’m sure that’s exactly the point, but it makes for pretty predictable film-watching. Other than that, I guess it just comes down to a matter of taste. The Rose is depressing, and I don’t tend to go for depressing films. As such, it’s probably not one I’m going to revisit.

Since watching The Rose allowed me to see Midler in such an impressive, Oscar-nominated role, I’m glad I finally checked it out. The great music and interesting story didn’t hurt anything either. But the film’s predictability and melodrama dragged me down enough that I doubt it’s one I’ll be watching again.

Regardless, yaaayyy Film Club! 🙂

Rating: 7.5/10


Oracle of Film:

I don’t know if I would go as far as saying I loved every second of The Rose, but I did find it interesting. The movie charts the fall of a successful rock star, The Rose and how her public image of being powerful is nothing like the actual person behind the stage, a fragile girl with the mind of the child and the life of a prisoner. There are certainly moments that are very entertaining. Any time the movie tackled one of the songs, it comes to life. Bette Midler’s performance is outstanding, especially when she is singing. The camera holds on her features, so we can see the troubled woman finally find peace in her music, tackling her feelings with lyrics that hit too close to home and seeking solace in the rock and roll, deafening her. The scenes are filmed like a televised gig, so it becomes very easy to sink into the music and actually just enjoy the songs. If nothing else, this movie might pick up a few fans of classic rock, who will skip through the weighty narrative and get to the electrifying highlights of the soundtrack. The Rose does music very well.

In fact, it does quite a lot very well. There is just something a little distant about the whole affair. The script does a very good job of making us not hate the characters, despite their actions being unpredictable and damaging. The Rose never feels in control of her own life, a slave to her demanding manager and her addictions. She is given several ways out and moments of redemption, but because all she understands is rock and roll, she throws them away. Frederic Forrester plays her lover and he also steers away from becoming unlikeable. Mainly this is because when he gets angry towards the Rose, we kind of see where he is coming from, the singer being so random and broken, it becomes hard to see how he hangs around with her for as long as he does. No, we never hate any of the characters, but we don’t overly like them either. I never connected with The Rose. I had no emotional connection with her breakdown; I simply watched. It interested me and I kept watching to see how her tragic downfall would end. Perhaps, while maybe not the director’s point of view way back in 1979, for a modern audience, this is an even more fitting message, as we watch our singers struggle with their fame and addictions, while we look on, more interested than caring.

Rating: 6/10


Overall rating: 5.8/10

General consensus: Fascinating, yet hard to watch. Compelling but repetitive. The overall score may be a little disingenuous towards The Rose, as it was a decent film, yet the frustrations of the character and her explosive nature were a gripe too many for some Film Club members. Perhaps the nature of The Rose is why it creates such debate, the film and the character are interesting enough, but do they compel enough to make you really care?


11 thoughts on “Film Club: The Rose

  1. Reblogged this on and commented:
    Check out what a bunch of us thought of the movie The Rose for this months Film Club at What About the Twinkie. Thanks again Kieron!

  2. I am sorry it took so long to get this one to you. However, I did enjoy this film. It is one of those ones that is really good film-making, but perhaps not entertaining. I never would have watched this, but I am glad Film Club made me. It is something I needed to sit down and watch.

  3. Really enjoyed reading your thoughts on this. I’m a fan of Bette Midler, but somehow this film has eluded me. Will have to watch it.

  4. Wow! My choice got such mixed reviews!!! I think it’s great :-)) I’m sorry for those of you who struggled finding the film online and for those of you who got bored. I’m glad, however, to read your awesome reviews about The Rose. I promise my next choice will be an easier one to find. Cheers!

  5. Reblogged this on and commented:
    Here’s March edition of Film Club, and this time I’m proud to present a bunch of great and very mixed reviews on The Rose (1979). I got to choose the film this time and realize it was a healthy controversial choice. Enjoy reading my fellow bloggers reviews on this one and thanks so again for Kieron of What About the Twinkie for this awesome idea!

  6. Great work here from everybody, of course! I am so sorry I couldn’t find this one, but looking forward to this month’s film!

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