An exploration of mixed marriages in Nazi Germany would be compelling on its own, and there's even more potential for pathos in this little-told story of a group of gentile women who stood up to armed Nazis holding their Jewish husbands captive in a makeshift prison. Yet screenwriter/director Margarethe von Trotta relies on a flashback-laden structure that detracts from the film's power. In the present day, a (fictional) American woman named Hannah yearns to learn her mother's secret wartime history; the answers lie in Berlin, locked inside the memories of another woman, Lena, who was involved in the street protest that gives the movie its name. As the latter character, actress Katja Reimann perfectly embodies the so-called Rosenstrasse women: tough, resolute, willing to do anything to bring her husband home. But the movie's disjointed flow makes it hard to watch the story unfold. The present-day scenes disrupt the suspense and emotions that are built up by the sequences set in 1943. If von Trotta had let the historical material carry Rosenstrasse, it might have been a masterpiece.
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