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Pierre Pinaud The Rose Maker Review


The Rose Maker (La fine fleur) | Review

The Rose Maker (La fine fleur) | Review

In the Name of the Rose: Frot Elevates Formulaic Melodrama from Pinaud

Pierre Pinaud The Rose Maker Review“What is life without beauty?,” inquires antiquated rosarian Eve Vernet in Pierre Pinaud’s painfully straightforward sophomore film The Rose Maker, a clinching sentiment encapsulating the purpose and ‘good’ intentions behind lives devoted to passionate undertakings. That it’s posed as a direct hypothetical in the film’s final moments underlines the film’s petit bourgeois leanings as a product calculated for polite audience pleasantries.

Painted in broad strokes with enlarged font, there’s neither a surprising moment nor an elegant epiphany to be had in this overtly earnest and familiar melodrama. Its one saving grace is a charming lead performance from one of modern French cinema’s most likable grand dames, Catherine Frot, the headliner whose presence likely assisted in the title snagging US distribution. Though worthy of a more complex dramatic narrative, considering Frot is more often cast in comedies, she’s enough to oil the wheels enough to push this rickety vehicle across the finish line.

Eve Vernet (Frot) was once lauded as one of the region’s largest rose growers, having inherited the name and the business from her father. Meticulous and impassioned, her brand is known for producing one original rose hybrid a year. But business has changed, and on the verge of bankruptcy with only her staunch assistant Vera (Olivia Cote) at her side, Eve is forced to contemplate quitting or selling her business to her younger, greedy competitor, Lamarzelle (Vincent Dedienne), who wishes to soak up all his competition. Business is booming for the profit based Lamarzelle, making his name off fast floral production without a thought to longevity as he wishes to monetize rosarian capabilities purely for profit (think the J.J. Abrams of the rose universe). After losing the last local rose competition with her new pearly white (which Vera wanted to name Sophie Marceau), her assistant finagles a trio of employees from a local rehabilitation organization. With the cheap labor, Eve can focus her energies on creating a new hybrid saving them from ruination. Eve bonds with the surly Fred (Melan Olmerta), a young man abandoned by his parents who has a knack for recognizing scents. Realizing Fred needs a good report from her to satisfy the requirements of his program, she requests he steal a sample of a particular rose being hoarded by Lamarzelle, which she is assured will help create the flower to trump them all come the next rose competition.

Pierre Pinaud The Rose Maker Review

Pinaud was once something of an exciting new voice in French cinema, winning applause for his 1999 short “An Early Frost” and then winning a Cesar for Best Short in 2008 with “Crumbs.” Netting Karin Viard to headline his 2012 narrative debut On Air, Pinaud breaks an eight year silence with The Rose Maker, dedicated to his own mother. It’s a familiar recipe, casting a celebrated actor and pairing them with an unknown up-and-comer from a different culture or different class (or both) and then letting movie nature take its course (for instance, the bare bones of this film aren’t too far off from something like Mama Weed, 2020 or On My Way, 2018, where Isabelle Huppert and Catherine Deneuve play women experiencing a professional crisis only to blossom along the way).

Frot works well as a fussy obsessive, who presumably has eschewed romance, marriage and children to succeed a deceased father she likely always felt inferior to, but her forced mentoring of Melan Olmerta’s Fred is not only obvious regarding the fulfillments of the third act, but aggravating. Homophobic, misogynist and just plain impolite (“Who’s that old geezer?,” he inquires about a framed photo of her father), he rejects the notion of anything remotely feminine, including being diagnosed with an olfactory sensitivity by Eve. Of course, as the film demands, he rises to the narrative occasion swimmingly, and it’s suggested everything’s coming up roses for him by the final frames. Instead, Fred seems more a candidate for a sequel to Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006).

Fadette Drouard gets screenplay credit with collaborating notes from Blandine Jet and Philippe le Guay (who wrote 2013’s Bicycling with Moliere, which this film feels resembles in tone and structure), but there’s nothing even slightly resembling risk or originality in this script, which poses and dispatches a villainous rose conglomerate (who has a Last Year at Marienbad back yard) and actually wastes a trio of bumbling criminals for wan comedic asides. Music montages proliferate egregiously, and despite providing several tidbits about the complex process of hybridization (which one character winkingly refers to as plant eugenics), there’s little to offer here other than an appreciation for Frot’s capabilities.


Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2021: France (Bruno Dumont), Passing (Rebecca Hall) and Nightmare Alley (Guillermo Del Toro). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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