Rosetta is a 1999 French-Belgian film written and directed by the Dardenne brothers. It is about a seventeen-year-old girl (played by Émilie Dequenne) who lives in a trailer park with her alcoholic mother. Trying to survive and to escape her situation, she makes numerous attempts towards securing a job allowing her to move away from the caravan and her dysfunctional mother in order to reach a stable life.
When her probationary employment ends, Rosetta (Émilie Dequenne) causes a violent struggle against her manager and the policemen when she refuses to leave the premises. She returns home to “The Grand Canyon”, the trailer park shared with her alcoholic mother who mends worn clothes for her to sell. Rosetta is also seen laying out traps to catch trout for food. Unable to receive unemployment pay and desperate for work, Rosetta goes around to ask about vacancies until she happens upon a waffle stand. She befriends the worker, Riquet (Fabrizio Rongione), after an inquiry. Rosetta questionably treats her unexplained stomach pains with pain relievers and a hairdryer massaging the area.
Riquet makes an unexpected visit to the trailer park, startling Rosetta. He informs her a coworker was fired and thus she will be able to have a job. Her mother’s promiscuity resulting from alcoholism prompts Rosetta to encourage her to seek a rehabilitation clinic so they can finally have a better life. However, her persistent denial causes her mother to run away. Rosetta decides to stay with Riquet for the night. During the awkward evening, she discovers a waffle iron in his possession. As she lies in bed, she tries to convince herself that her life has started to function normally.
At work, she is replaced after three days by the owner (Olivier Gourmet) because his son failed school, leading to another violent confrontation. Rosetta is moderately pacified when he tells her she will be contacted if an opportunity arises. She begins a new search for employment while keeping Riquet company during work. Riquet falls into the water when he helps Rosetta with her traps. She watches him thrashing in the muddy water and hesitates before helping him out. Later she discovers Riquet has been selling his own waffles during business hours from his offer of an under the table job helping him mix the batter. After some contemplation, she tells the owner. Rosetta looks on as Riquet is thrown out of the stand and is handed his apron. Betrayed and hurt, Riquet chases Rosetta on his moped as she attempts to evade him. Eventually he catches up to her and demands her motive. She states she wanted a job and had no intention of saving him.
Rosetta encounters Riquet as a customer when she begins her first day in his stead. She returns home to find her mother barely conscious and inebriated in front, dragging her inside and putting her to bed. She calls her boss and tells him she will not be at work the next day. She then turn on the gas, and goes to bed, in an attempt to slowly kill herself and her mother. The gas runs out. She goes to the landlord to ask for another one. As she hauls the canister of gas with great difficulty, Riquet on his moped appears to circle around her. Rosetta walks a short distance before collapsing to the ground and cries. Riquet grabs her by the arm to pick her up. She turns around to gaze at him as she slowly regains her composure.
In Belgium the film inspired a new law prohibiting employers from paying teen workers less than the minimum wage and other labor reforms for youth.