Monday, October 8, 2012

Impasse, Unemployment, Rosetta

Berlant discusses impasse as making sense of the present as "time of dithering from which someone or some situation cannot move forward"(4). Directionality and temporality seem to be at the core of a film like Rosetta where an individual dreams of "upward mobility" or a better life.

Repetition of a limited number of actions over a wide variety of faceless backgrounds root the film in a moment between present and future. There seems to be a clear direction in which Rosetta aims, but her drive, even going as far as assaulting her employers to maintain a job, complicates her position in the narrative. Her fighting, her illegal fishing, her drunk mother, all return again and again to the screen to remind us of Rosetta's present. While the character expresses desire to leave the trailer park and get a job through fair means and reach out to a yet unknown better state, the film stylisticly shows Rosetta's arrival at an impasse. Berlant writes, "the end of mobility as a fantasy of upwardness, and the shift to the aspiration toward achieving an impasse and stop-loss, is a subtle re-direction of the fantasy bribes transacted to effect the reproduction of life under the present economic conditions" (179). As the film progresses, Rosetta enters Berlant's "cul-de-sac" of continued movement within the same space. The same question of employment across all spaces of public occupation. Berlant says the impasse is a point to form gesture that creates an opening for multi-directional action.

I'm having trouble identifying Rosetta's eventual employment at the waffle stand as the long awaited moment of activity after a long tireless parade through action/inaction of the rest of the film. Her employment seems to point at something other than a return to upward mobility or a move toward further economic woe. Berlant discusses the gesture as "making time...opening the present to attention and unpredicted exchange" (199). As much as Rosetta criticizes the cyclic nature of her mother's life, her's is not much different, but rather than drinking and fucking she seems to be fighting and hunting for both food and jobs. Riquet is helpless within the context of Berlant's impasse and I feel the gesture in this film is the entrance of Riquet into Rosetta's life. The true break for Rosetta's impasse seems to fittingly be at the abrupt end to the film.

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