[box cover]

The Rose

Bette Midler has always been an awkward sort of celebrity. Though she's made several movies, none seem to fit her well, and no role seems to encapsulate why people like her — she is of a rare class of modern celebrity for whom the best roles of their lives have been as guests on late night talk shows. But if one part must be singled out Midler's best would probably be her starring turn in 1979's The Rose. Playing a character modeled on Janis Joplin, Mary Rose Foster is a rock star from 1969 who is edging close to burning out. A drunk, she finds that she can't stay on stage any more as the drinking and rock n' roll lifestyle is killing her. Salvation seems to come from a mysterious stranger named Huston (Frederick Forrest), but their relationship is rife with drama. A road movie about the decline of a rock star, The Rose might have been more compelling had it actually been Janis Joplin's story — that way the audience might have some knowledge of the joys and successes of this wilting flower. Here, from frame one, Mary Rose Foster is on the way down, and the script takes over two hours to get her to the bottom. Also damning is that the movie seems to theorize that much of her troubles are a result of her inability to keep a man. And perhaps most obnoxious of all is that every time Rose goes to a restaurant or bar, stuffy people think of her as hippie scum (outside of a drag show she ends up watching), and yet she keeps selling out auditoriums. Her fans must live under rocks. But Midler gives it everything she's got, and she's the best reason to watch the film, especially in regard to the thoroughly mediocre rock 'n' roll numbers; she almost convinces that they might be played in arena rock gigs. Fox presents The Rose in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) in a rather unattractive transfer (though may very well have been the way the film was supposed to look) and in DD 4.0 and Dolby 2.0 Surround audio. Extras include a gushing commentary by director Mark Rydell and trailers for this and other "Fox Flix." Keep-case.
—DSH



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