Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Rosalie Goes Shopping (1990)

Dir. Percy Adlon
Starring: Marianne Sägebrecht, Brad Davis, Judge Reinhold, Alex Winter

A large German lady wafts around her light-soaked dream house in a floating negligee. She turns. There’s someone at the door: a post man in shorts. She walks towards him…

When Rebecca heard that I was going to watch a German movie titled Rosalie Goes Shopping she couldn’t stop giggling. She imagined that I had actually hired a porno by mistake. And for the first couple of minutes I have to admit I had no idea where the film was heading… Thankfully the film was not pornographic (the one bed scene takes place under the covers), but even after having watched the entire thing I am still not exactly sure where it was heading.

Rosalie Greenspace (Marianne Sägebrecht) is a Bavarian lady living in Stuttgart - that’s Stuttgart, Arkansas - with her American husband Ray (Brad Davis) and their seven children. He is a crop duster pilot with failing eyesight, she is a homemaker who juggles the bills. Literally. She is a compulsive shopper who is walking a tightrope of debt. She makes payments on multiple credit cards which she then reports stolen, she bounces cheques, she forges her childrens’ signatures to withdraw money from their bank accounts, she tampers with her husband’s pay-cheques. She is forced to do worse and worse things to keep up the interest payments. Much as Ray tries to ignore his failing eyesight until, inevitably, he crashes, so she looks to be heading for a crash from ignoring her financial situation.

Except she doesn’t. She gets away with it. The more audacious her moves, the better her results. The breakthrough is buying her daughter an $11,500 home PC (it looks like a piece of junk – the film was made in 1989 remember). But with this, and her knowledge of human nature, Rosalie is able to guess everyone’s passwords and transfer money about willy-nilly. Eventually she bluffs her way into a $2 million line of credit with a bank in Little Rock and starts to build up a fleet of airplanes. Erm. And that’s it. The bank president (John William Galt) becomes infatuated her, her local priest (‘80s legend Judge Reinhold) is agog at her exploits, her family forgive her and she never faces the consequences of her actions. The only time she feels guilt is when she doesn’t go shopping, meaning that there are no groceries for dinner. She treats confession to her priest the same as easy credit. She has learnt nothing from what she has done, but she apologises and she is forgiven. Simple!

This is what $11,500 buys you in 1990!

There are a few good barbs thrown into the script which seem particularly apposite in these credit-crunch times. Rosalie comments that the banks always screw everyone over legally, and now she is subjecting them to a taste of their own medicine. With these things it is better to be bigger and bolder: “When you’re $100,000 in debt it’s your problem. When you’re $1,000,000 in debt… it’s the banks”. You can afford to be in debt as long as you can pay off the interest – and that it what the banks want. If a businessman cannot pay his debts he is declared bankrupt and goes on to another well-paying job; if a normal citizen cannot pay their debts they get sent to jail. After buying Ray a new airplane she turns to camera and comments that they are no more or less in debt than everyone else. So yes – good points. The banks do rig the system. The richer one is the more leeway one is given. We are all living on borrowed credit. But can I recommend the film? No I cannot. It’s terrible.

Storyline? Poor. Script? Poor. Acting? Poor - and it does have some recognisable stars in it in the shapes of Judge Reinhold and Alex Winter (Bill S. Preston Esquire from the Bill and Ted movies). Soundtrack? Terrible! Maybe the German sense of humour does not translate over, because someone obviously thought it was good enough to back. Possibly the one plus point to watching it is to see the cutting edge of late ‘80s computer technology – apparently one can become a master hacker with a modem and a PC that looks to have the processing powers and graphics of a Walkman. But in general I thought the film was, like Rosalie, short on credit and pretty bankrupt.

What have I learnt about Arkansas?
It has skyscrapers! Little Rock has big glassy skyscrapers! Stuttgart down the road however is much more rural with giant rice silos: Stuttgart is the ‘rice and duck capital of the world’ apparently (one wonders if the Chinese know). Rosalie’s mother describes it as ‘ugly’ and she isn’t far wrong. But family – and credit – is the important thing that makes life worth living.

Can we go there?
Yeah, I knew the promise of the rice and duck capital of the world would get your juices flowing! Stuttgart is located in Arkansas County, 45 miles south-east of glitzy big city Little Rock (with its skyscrapers and busy airport). There one will be able to see the towering Riceland silos featured in the film – Riceland Foods is the world’s biggest rice miller in the world and is responsible for a third of U.S. rice production. Rice fields do indeed surround the area. And the Museum of the Arkansas Grand Prairie still exists to enthrall any passing German tourists. And it does have a municipal airport, though it looks larger than the one where the Greenspaces live. Apparently Dick Chaney used to fly down from Washington regularly in Air Force 2 to go duck hunting nearby. Judge Reinhold’s church where Rosalie goes for confession is the closed St. Elizabeth Catholic Church further north in DeValls Bluff, Prairie County.

Overall Rating: 0/5

No comments:

Post a Comment