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Rambling Rose

When Rose, an alluring young woman played by Laura Dern, moves in with a Southern family to care for their children, their lives are changed forever. Rose relates to everyone she meets in the only way she knows how – with an innocent, but highly charged sexuality she cannot restrain. Robert Duvall co-stars as “Daddy,” a man whose traditional values could never prepare him for the temptations of Rose. Diane Ladd – Dern’s real-life mother – plays “Mother”, who offers Rose protection and love despite the scandal the girl creates in their small town. Lukas Haas is the teenager who will always remember Rose as both a provocative fantasy and a profound mystery. Special Features include: Scene-by-scene commentary by director Martha Coolidge; Interview with the director; Deleted scenes; Alternate ending. Laura Dern, Robert Duvall, Dianne Ladd, Lukas Haas This overrated period comic-drama, set in Georgia in the 1930s, featured the first mother-daughter team to be nominated for acting Oscars in the same year. Laura Dern plays a free-wheeling young woman who is taken in as a domestic by an upper-class family, headed by Robert Duvall and Diane Ladd (Dern’s real-life mother). Rose, who tends to let her sexual urges get the best of her, scandalizes everyone in three counties (including Duvall and Lukas Haas, who plays his son) with her willing spirit. Do those kind of loose morals warrant court-ordered sterilization? Or does this young woman just need a guiding hand? While many fell for this cornpone shtick, directed by Martha Coolidge, it’s a hard movie to cozy up to because Rose is such a caricature and the rest of the characters (with the exception of the always exceptional Duvall) are such sticks. –Marshall Fine

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3 comments to Rambling Rose

  • Charles M. Cornell

    In defense of Laura Dern! I must disagree with the reviewer who so strongly criticized Laura Dern’s performance. While it is true that ‘Rambling Rose’ has its weaknesses (the abrupt, rather unexplained ending, for one thing), I found the story line humorous and even charming. Dern’s performance made the movie, in my opinion! Diane Ladd overacts a bit, as usual, but this is a minor flaw with the film as a whole. What stuck with me was Dern’s ‘little girl lost’ expression mixed with her coy devil-may-care flirtation, which made for an entirely winning performance. I loved the music too!

  • Joseph Haschka

    Akin to starting a leaf blower near killer bees Societies regard single, attractive, sexually available women with both idolization and uneasiness. The lust, envy, jealousy and otherwise tumultuous passions surrounding their passage through the populace can be disruptive of societal bonds, e.g. by “homewrecking”, even though no fault of their own. One reason why the concept, at least, of marriage is valued so highly is that this cultural arrangement takes the problematic single female out of circulation, so to speak. And, social pressures cause opprobrium to be heaped on “loose women”, even by the very men who are drawn to them. Of course, the feminist correctly sees these attitudes as blatantly sexist.RAMBLING ROSE takes a compassionate look at the phenomenon of social turbulence caused by an “unattached” woman. Rose, flamboyantly played by Laura Dern, is the blithe, single, 19-year old girl invited to live with a very proper Southern family in the mid-1930s. The family, offering Rose help at this difficult time in her life, includes Daddy (Robert Duvall), Mother (Diane Ladd, Dern’s real-life mother), and 13-year old Buddy (Lukas Haas). Rose, already possessing a checkered history acquired with unspecified men, is a sexual “free spirit”, who proceeds to cause hormonal havoc in the town’s male population. Even Daddy is bewitched. To Buddy, Rose is, unsurprisingly, the godsend of a new awareness. Of the adults, only Mother, recognizing Rose as essentially guileless, staunchly defends her as the repercussions of the Siren’s residence start to add up.A better film on much the same theme is Y2K’s MALENA – a superb Italian production. Nonetheless, RAMBLING ROSE is delightful. Dern is positively captivating. Duvall is at his best, which is pretty darn good by any measure. Ladd portrays Mother as a slightly eccentric individual whose generosity towards and understanding of Rose is a clear counterpoint to the hardening attitudes of the other adults. The Buddy character should remind all males in the viewing audience of that time when they were 13 and discovering girls as beings with something more to offer than simply opportunities for boorish teasing. I like this film immensely.

  • Anonymous

    Pleasant diversion Contrary to another viewer, I though Laura Dern’s acting was very good in this film, unlike in “Jurassic Park” where she really did seem gawky and unnatural. The film has some nostalgia, some laughs, and some pathos. Not a classic, but an enjoyable diversion about a free-spirited young woman who creates havoc around her.

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