Decent films about adolescent girls are hardly a dime a dozen. Watching the new Belgian film Rosie veer alarmingly close to truthfulness and insight, you can't help but wish writer-director Patrice Toye had trusted in her young heroine more and in snake-pit melodramatics less. Toye has the tools: a moody working-class realism, a knack for adolescent observation, and the open-faced Aranka Coppens as the titular 13-year-old. Alert yet wary, Rosie lives in an Antwerp project with her mother (Sara De Roo), who tries to keep her parenthood a secret while dating, and hangs out with Jimi (Joost Wijnant), a sweet blond boy who might not be altogether real. Rosie herself feels genuine, but rather than flesh her out, Toye excavates white-trash clichés like incest, murder, and madness. Rosie has many breath-holding scenes—the poor girl delicately skating away after getting hit by a car, and later carrying off a stolen infant without any idea how to care for it—but by the end, the thrust is Belgian Gothic.

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