Rosalie Goes Shopping Review

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Every morning Ray Greenspace (Davis) dust crops while his wife, Rosalie (Sagebrecht) performs all manner of swindles and grifts to keep their household from being repossessed. Her schemes inevitably get ever more zany as the bills build up.


Stuttgart, Arkansas is, according to a lady museum guide in one of this film’s cherishable moments, the “rice and duck capital of the world”. It is also home to Ray and Rosalie Greenspace, a blissfully happy married couple and their seven offspring. While Liebling, as Ray is known, flies his rickety cropduster (the only competition Rosalie has for his affections), his Bavarian wife shares a cup of German coffee with the postman each morning and then climbs back into her satin sheets to pore over the huge pile of bills he has brought her from mail order and credit card companies. Thereafter, this doting mother and model housewife works various complicated fiddles by phone to keep the bailiffs at bay, then gets into her car (licence plate CHRG IT) and goes shopping.

Capitalising on the success of the thoroughly enchanting Bagdad Cafe, the Adlon-Sagebrecht show has stayed in America to take a look at the pleasures and pitfalls of the world’s most aggressive consumer society, whose TV offers of nirvana nightly overwhelm every home in the land. Indeed, the after-dinner entertainment chez Greenspace has the whole family gathered round the box to mock and mimic the commercials, an occupation which does nothing to prevent Rosalie falling for every special offer.

As the debts pile up, her scams and schemes grow ever wilder - she even cashes in the return half of her parents’ air tickets when they visit from Germany - while the local priest to whom she confesses (Reinhold), grows ever more desperate. Matters take a bizarre turn when this lady, determined to beat the system which she blames for her plight, discovers that a personal computer, plugged into the right places, can work to her advantage.

This is a movie chock full of imaginative ideas in both situation and character and punctuated with wonderfully inventive moments, some of them very funny, others warm and loving. The generosity of spirit which has characterised Adlon’s work from Celeste onwards remains intact, the character of Rosalie suits Sagebrecht’s persona perfectly, and there is much here to enjoy.

Great comic performances all round (especially Judge Reinhold) and an anti-American Dream amorality it's hard not to root for.