THE ROSE -- AMC Academy 6, AMC Skyline 6, Dupont Circle, Springfield Mall Cinema.
Something is missing from the newest version that old-but-good movie about the sensitive soul whose talent and ambition make her the idol of the world, only to bring her to destruction because of the relentless demands of her art.
What is missing, in "The Rose," is the sensitive soul. Bette Midler, playing a rock star adulated by millions is, at the film's opening, already in the stages that the standard such heroine collapse into, at the end of the film. She is falling down drunk before the credits are over. In every performance she gives in the film, she lunges for a bottle, drugs or both during the act. In every offstage encounter, she is screaming obscenities to strangers, friends, lovers, passersby.
And the film shows her to be practicing the least demanding of arts. No matter how obviously unable she is to carry on, even when she falls down on stage, she receives the same hysterical acclaim.
So what is this terrible force that is destroying her? Well, the versions that are dramatized all show that she feels she is not kowtowed to enough. It anyone dares to cross her in the slightest way, or worse, to fail to recognize her and treat her as the greatest star of all times, she goes into a fit of vulgar rage that is startling, even in a field where outrageous vulgarity is a saleable quality.
Poor little vulnerabale girl. Can't get enough love, and her heart is broken. The knees are kind of weak, too.
That one is intended to believe Rose died of over-sensitivity is betrayed at the end when her photograph is tacked onto a wall with those of all the show business dead who are presumed to have died of this epidemic. James Dean is formost among them, but no doubt a close look would reveal Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Janis Joplin and all the others.
It is a cynical economy to make use of this device in place of dramatic and character development -- especially when the idea could have been developed with minimal effort, because we are already so familiar, from other movies and rock-star obituaries, with the premise. But, then, rock movies, with their scanty concessions to filling in the spaces between the filmed performances and the time before the movie album can be sold, are notoriously cynical.