Long takes are used frequently, whether in a seven-minute exchange between Rose and Huston in bed or a staggering high-angle shot that frames Rose in front of a football field while using a payphone, before craning down to capture her in close-up. These visual cues, along with Midler’s presence, give the film an immediacy and dynamism.
Almost certainly Joplin's friends, associates and many of her old fans will accuse The Rose of distortion, sentimentality, vulgarization andother crimes. They will not be entirely wrong, and yet Mark Rydell's film has a certain coarse, splashy integrity. And it has a remarkable, going-all-the-way performance by Bette Midler in her first movie. [12 Nov 1979, p.107]
BY the time you realize what's wrong with "The Rose," it will have you hooked anyhow...The Rose has an earnest, affecting character at its core. Even at its most preposterous, it never feels like a fraud.
If you have missed Janis Joplin, and if you have looked forward to
Bette Midler's debut in a role she seemed born to play, you should leave
the theatre at that precise moment. Almost everything else in and about
The Rose, except a few concert sequences and the
occasional occasions when Miss Midler falls out of character and into her
stage persona of The Divine Miss M, is infuriatingly tedious, depressing,
pretentious, obvious and downright pushy. [10 Nov 1979]
The best reason to see The Rose is to be in a position to relish the inevitable parody on "Saturday Night Live." Here's a sitting turkey that virtually sits up and begs to be plucked. [8 Nov 1979, p.F1]