Isabella Rossellini responds to criticism of Roger Ebert’s “Blue Velvet”

Nearly 40 years after Roger Ebert’s one-star review of David Lynch Blue velvetin which the late critic claimed Isabella Rossellini was “degraded,” the film’s star speaks out about how she feels Ebert’s assessment was incorrect.

Talk with IndieWireRossellini said she hadn’t read Blue velvet criticism upon the film’s release – something she avoids for any of her work – because “even if [the review is] well, there is always a sentence that is negative and that stays with you forever. However, Ebert’s words were inevitable, as she was told that her review mentioned that Lynch, who was Rossellini’s partner at the time, had “exploited” her.

“I was surprised because I was an adult,” she remembers. “I was 31 or 32. I chose to play the character.”

In the film, Rossellini plays Dorothy Vallens, who is raped and abused by gangster Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper), who also kidnapped her husband, Don, and son, Donnie.

“In this film, Rossellini is asked to do things that require real courage,” writes Ebert in his goodbye. “In one scene, she is publicly embarrassed by being dumped naked on the police detective’s lawn. In others, she is asked to portray emotions that I imagine most actresses would prefer not to touch.

He continued: “She is degraded, slapped, humiliated and stripped naked on camera. And when you ask an actress to have these experiences, you have to uphold your end of the bargain by putting her in an important film.

Looking back on his role, Rossellini defended Lynch’s nuanced way of writing the character. “I think my character was the first time we did an abused woman, a portrait of an abused woman, but also she was hiding behind…

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