THE ROSE MAKER (La fine fleur)

music box movies
Reviewed for and, linked to Rotten Tomatoes by Harvey Karten
Director: Pierre Pinaud
Screenwriters: Fadette Drouard, Blandine Jet, Philippe Le Guay, Pierre Pinaud
With: Catherine Frot, Manel Foulgoc, Fatsah Bouyahmed, Olivia Côte, Marie Petiot, Vincent Dedienne
Screening at: Critics’ link, NYC, 3/10/21
Opening: April 1, 2022

Flowers are like people. Both must be cultivated. Without the strong presence of a woman with a greenhouse in the first case, and without the loving attention that parents must devote to their children, both will go wrong. The flowers will deteriorate; people may turn to crime and other anti-social activities. To that extent “The Rose Maker” is allegorical. However, like all good allegories – ‘Gulliver’s Travels’, ‘Moby Dick’, ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’, ‘Animal Farm’, ‘The Lord of the Rings’ – the story speaks for itself. . “The Rose Maker” has a three-hankey ending, but that doesn’t mean it’s just a Hallmark card. The film features a strong and believable performance by sixty-five-year-old Catherine Frot, whom French moviegoers may have seen in the breathtaking lead role of “Marguerite,” about a diva who sings terribly but in her bubble thinks it’s Maria Callas. This is Pierre Pinaud’s second feature film, whose “On Air” centers on a radio host who lives a reclusive life until she meets her real mother.

Catherine Frot plays the role of Eve Vernet, whose late father left her a nursery of roses, but who is on the verge of bankruptcy. Her roses are her passion, but she can’t compete with a corporate giant that cuts prices with the kind of inferior product that only a greedy corporate mogul like Lamarzelle (Vincent Dedienne) could produce. Like promoters in our own country, Lamarzelle wants to buy out small business, perhaps thinking that businesses can only succeed if they grow, but Eve won’t hear of it. Humiliating his deceased father or working for Lamarzelle is prohibited.

She can’t afford help, but free labor is on the way when three convicts are introduced to her, released from prison but who can’t imagine having any interest in growing flowers. Fred (Manel Foulgoc) is from Paris and has been caught at every burglary attempt. Fifty-year-old Samir (Farsah Bouyahmed) is the dean of the convicts, while Nadège (Marie Pitiot), who doesn’t have much to say, but whose expressions bear witness to terminal perplexity (“what is what am I doing here?”) but has a glimpse later that surprises the group. Eva is also assisted by Véra (Olivia Côte), the office manager who regularly warns her boss that things are getting out of hand.

As the year progresses, a skeptical Eve, at first reluctant to deal with prisoners, can save her business by using the untapped knowledge and gifts of her crew – ideas that are unlikely to be nurtured behind bars. Samir, remembering his high school biology class, brings genetics to the table while Fred has a gift of smell, at least equal to his ability to pick locks. Fred is the kind of guy who could sniff some wine and declare it has a bouquet of oak, cedar, violet, apple, pineapple, and incense. He would be an ideal employee for a perfumery. In the present day, however, the three may have influenced Eve to commit a criminal act – stealing a prize plant from the corporate farmer, using the native skills of her band of miscreants. While the burglary appears to save Eve’s business, making the crime pay, things get complicated.

“The Rose Maker” is billed as a comedy, a comedy that, if the picture had been made by Hollywood, would make it a sitcom — vulgar at times, insisting on two laughs a minute. The French, however, bring out the wholesome sentiment, perhaps leading its audience to lean politically to the left, embracing the progressive idea that prison is not a way to deal with juvenile offenders, but training in the sunny French countryside will produce the wonders that all honest, hard-working taxpayers hope for. If you have any feelings, you won’t be able to resist a tear or two at the end, returning home like you’ve just received a powerful sermon on a beautiful spring day.

In French with English subtitles.

94 minutes. © 2022 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online

History – B+
Interim -A-
Technical – B+
Overall – B+


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