Review: Documentary ‘Reinventing Rosalee’ celebrates a centenarian

Rosalee Glass (center) in a scene from “Reinventing Rosalee.” Credit: Random Media
Rosalee Glass in the documentary “Reinventing Rosalee.”
(Random Media)

There’s no question that 102-year-old Holocaust survivor Rosalee Glass is an extraordinary, inspiring woman worthy of a cinematic close-up. It’s unfortunate, then, that “Reinventing Rosalee,” the documentary directed by and co-starring her daughter, Lillian Glass, isn’t a more deftly constructed journey.

The picture covers much significant territory in its brief running time. But despite sincere efforts, it too often plays more like a glorified home movie than the kind of polished, fully dimensional work the subject deserves.

First-time director Glass, an author and body-language expert, also scripted the film based on her mother’s 2017 book “Rosalee Glass: 100 Years of Wisdom to Guide You Thru Life’s Ups and Downs.”

Using archival clips, personal photos and footage, retro-sounding voice-over narration, and a strange and awkward mix of illustrative clips from such feature films as 1937’s “A Star Is Born,” “Rain” and, of all things, Ed Wood’s “Glen or Glenda,” Lillian contrasts her Warsaw-born mother’s tragedy-strewn earlier life (including imprisonment in a Siberian gulag during World War II) with her joyously vibrant golden years acting in TV commercials, winning a beauty pageant award and traveling the world. (She rode with Alaskan sled dogs to celebrate her 100th birthday.)

The warm and ebullient Rosalee is a lovely, irresistible force who’s wonderful to spend time with. If only a more objective, seasoned filmmaker had crafted this valuable tribute.


‘Reinventing Rosalee’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Playing: Starts March 29, Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills