Film: Rosalie



This is the second feature film by director/writer Stephanie Di Giusto (The Dancer, about Loie Fuller who became the toast of the Folies Bergeres and stages around the world).

It is set in 1870 and loosely based on the life of Clementine Delait, a famous French bearded lady.

Beautifully filmed in a small village in Brittany, with wonderful costuming, it has it has been selected for the Queer Palm Award (presented at the Cannes Festival for a film which resists conformity and is exempt from the mainstream).



Abel (Benoit Magimel) is a former soldier with back injuries. He is in debt to a local factory owner who discourages his employees from drinking alcohol at his café as he thinks it will lead to drunkenness at work.

He agrees to marry Rosalie (Nadia Tereszkiewic) who comes with a dowry provided by her widowed father (Gustave Kervern), plus she appears attractive and capable, able to sew and help run the café.

On his wedding night he discovers his wife has hirsutism (an excess growth of hair over areas of the body where it would not ordinarily grow, such as face and back).



She has been taught to shave her face at an early age by her father and wears self-made clothes covering the rest of her body. She is comfortable with her body – and hopes Abel will find her acceptable as his wife.  But he is repulsed by her hair, and they sleep in separate rooms.

Her hard work, looks, and happy nature bring customers back to the café, but when she decides not to hide her body any longer, and has a wager with a male customer that she can grow a better beard than his, things get out of hand. Photographs circulate of her, bearded and half-clad, and the villagers turn against her.

The two brilliant actors did not meet before the shooting of this film, which was made chronologically.  Nadia and the director lived together in an isolated village in the Breton Forest while the film was being made, and Benoit was always on the set in the personality of the character he was playing. Each hair was pasted onto Nadia’s body.

It is a very believable romantic drama, perhaps challenging the audience about what is “normal”, with a rather enigmatic ending.

115 minutes.

Spoken in French with English sub-titles.

Keep an eye out for Rosalie in theatres and streaming releases.

Watch the trailer…