MOVIE OF THE WEEK April 1, 2022: THE ROSE MAKER

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If watching a movie like Big Night sends you to the pantry looking for something delicious and decadent to eat, The Rose Maker will have you running to your garden — or the nearest florist — for a fragrant bouquet. Pierre Pinaud’s charming dramedy about fiercely independent French rose breeder Eve Vernet (Catherine Frot) is chock full of flowers so lush and vivid that you’d swear their scent is wafting from the screen (too bad Smell-O-Vision isn’t still a thing!).

Eve is passionate about maintaining the legacy left to her by her father, a master rose grower who excelled at creating new, hybridized varieties of the popular flower — something critical for commercial success. Eve has his talent and drive, but her business is still on the verge of going under thanks to a flashy, deep-pocketed corporate outfit run by the slick M. Lamarzell (Vincent Dedienne). Eve has one last chance to turn things around if she can create something amazing in time for a big competition, but how can she afford the help that she and her loyal second in command, Vera (Olivia Côte), need to get the job done?

Enter Fred (Manel Omerta), Samir (Fatsah Bouyahmed), and Nadège (Marie Petiot), three recently released formerly incarcerated parolees who need to work as part of their rehabilitation/transition back into civilian life. Eve is highly skeptical at first, especially when Nadège makes a costly mistake, but it turns out they have skills that she needs to succeed in her plan. And, of course, they have important things to learn from her, too — let’s just say that the movie’s growth and blossoming metaphors aren’t any more subtle than a rose’s scent.

But it all works, because this is a movie about renewal, the power of gentle cultivation, and finding strength in unexpected places. The cast is appealing, with Frot and Foulgoc the particular standouts as Eve and Fred, who clash at first but eventually find in one another something that each has been missing — she, someone who appreciates her work and legacy, and he a parental figure who cares about him and his future. Nothing ever gets too thorny in this world of sun-kissed blooms, but if you’re looking for something sweet to brighten your day, The Rose Maker is a lovely “pick.”– Betsy Bozdech

Team #MOTW’s comments:

Nell Minow: Catherine Frot gives an exquisite performance as Eve, who is dedicated to her father’s legacy and to the beauty of the roses she tends so lovingly. She does it for art and for love, and is disdainful about the agribusiness approach of her rival. It turns out, she is as talented at cultivating people as she is with flowers, and the unfolding of her relationship with three initially reluctant workers is told with enormous warmth and charm.

Susan Wloszczyna: While Mother Nature is busy making sure that spring is “sprunging,” The Rose Maker is a perfect reflection of the season. In fact, I wish that French director and co-writer Pierre Pinaud could have used Smell-O-Vision cards to allow viewers to sniff the aromas of the flowers on screen. Read full review

Pam Grady: Flowers aren’t the only things that bloom in this amiable French import. The Vernets were once among the largest rose growers in the region but 15 years after her father’s death, Eve Vernet (Catherine Frot) is facing ruin, unable to keep up with her lavishly financed corporate competition. Then just as she reluctantly takes on three workers from a prison rehabilitation program she also envisions a new hybrid that just might save her legacy. The beating heart of the film is Eve’s relationship with her untrained helpers, Samir (Fatsah Bouyahmed), Nadège (Marie Petiot), and Fred (Melan Omerta). On the face, it a mismatch. They have no real interest in her flowers. She only reluctantly employs them. But the roses in Pierre Pinaud’s sweet-natured comedy are an apt metaphor for the connection that develops between the four of them, itself a kind of hybrid that blossoms in ways that surprises them all – and by extension, the audience.

Marilyn Ferdinand The French have long taken pride in the artisanal products family-owned businesses have made for hundreds of years—wine, cheese, couture clothing, perfume. However, the economies of scale and mechanization that have arisen under late capitalism have eroded individual craftsmanship and squeezed out small producers. The Rose Maker looks at this process in the rose cultivar business. Eve Vernet (Catherine Frot) is barely making a go of her rose-making business and is in danger of being bought up by an industrial rose maker, Lamarzelle (Vincent Dedienne). With the help of her longtime assistant, Véra (Olivia Côte), and three low-cost workers from a rehabilitation shelter (Fatsah Bouyahmed, Marie Petiot, and Manel Foulgoc), Eve hopes to win an important rose-breeding competition and the cash and buyer demand that come with it by stealing a rare rose from Lamarzelle’s compound and creating a new hybrid. Director Pierre Pinaud suggests a comedy spy caper, complete with 007 music, as the motley crew breaks into Lamarzelle’s rare rose house, but his main focus is on how Eve and her crew form a family of sorts dedicated to bringing beauty into the world despite the odds. This soulful film reminds us that there’s a whole lot more to life than just making money—or roses.

Leslie Combemale The Rose Maker has a far better title in French, The Delicate Flower, which captures better the extended metaphor at the center of the movie, about how easily people, or for that matter, someone’s life’s work can be damaged, and how building a thicker skin or a few thorns can come in handy in business. The film succeeds at walking that fine line between froth and something more substantive, offering a charming 90 minutes largely filmed in the French countryside, and what’s not to love about that?

Jennifer Merin The Rose Maker is a charming femme-centric French dramedy about Mme Eve Vernet (Catherine Frot), a middle-aged rose cultivator who has inherited her multi-generational family business, a beautiful flower nursery not far from Paris, and is now trying to save the place — her home since childhood — from bankruptcy. Read full review.

Loren King After her recent, memorable films including The Midwife, Haute Cuisine and Marguerite, if you didn’t already love veteran French actress Catherine Frot, then Pierre Pinaud’s charming The Rose Maker will convince you. Pinaud’s dramedy, set in the French countryside, is yet another reason to admire this earthy, gifted actress. She plays Eve Vernet, a rose grower clinging to her late father’s modest business while struggling against numerous obstacles including the soulless conglomerate who is her competitor. Operating on the narrowest of margins, Eve reluctantly agrees to take on three workers who are required to perform supervised service, even though none of them has any horticulture skills. It’s a familiar story about misfits bonding set in an unusual, inviting world. Through a series of comic and dramatic bits, Eva and the trio triumph in ways both expected and not. Frot infuses her character with humor and humanity so that by the end, the sentiment is earned and rewarding.

Sandie Angulo Chen: The Rose Maker is a crowd-pleasing French dramedy about Eve Vernet (Catherine Frot), a middle-aged rose cultivator whose small family business Vernet Roses is failing in the face of a big-money competitor’s greed. As a hail-Mary effort to save her business (and her father’s legacy) from bankruptcy, Eve agrees to hire three unpaid workers with no experience through a parolee rehabilitation program: former thief Fred (Melan Omerta), socialist Samir (Fatsah Bouyahmed), and timid Nadege (Marie Petiot). Frot is fabulous as the unapologetically demanding and perfectionist Eve, who’s not afraid to get her hands dirty to save the family name from disgrace. The three supporting actors give standout performances in this funny and sweet film about second chances, teamwork, and found family.

Liz Whittemore War of the roses? A proud creator of unique hybrid roses finds herself over her head in debt. Determined not to be pushed out by her competition and in hopes of growing a brand new flower, she takes on three ex-convicts to help her steal a particular flower. This horticultural heist sure is sweet. Be prepared to smile from ear to ear as this cast plays with a plucky premise. The romanticism of roses is palpable. The close-up and time-lapse footage of the flowers are breathtaking. This cast has wholesome chemistry, allowing for laughs and emotional investment. You’re rooting for this ragtag group of underdogs. While The Rose Maker is about saving a business, it is also about building a family. Just as Eve carefully cultivates a hybrid rose, she nurtures her newfound employees with bold ideas and creativity. Beyond its formulaic structure, it’s a beautiful metaphor for unconditional love and perseverance. It’s a delightful film.

Cate Marquis French comedy The Rose Maker stars Catherine Frot (Marguerite) as Eve Vernet, the owner of a once-prosperous but still prestigious rose cultivation company, Rose Vernet. Eve inherited the business from her father and she is devoted to her profession and its traditions but company Rose Vernet now is down to two employees, Eve and her loyal business manager. Strapped for cash and under pressure from a giant company that wants to buy her out, the pair take on three mismatched prison parolees, who have no training in horticulture, instead of the usual seasonal workers. Eve is certain she can turn the business around if she can develop a new rose, and she hatches a plan that involves a little larceny to achieve that goal. While the plot plays out along familiar lines, there is plenty of humor, charm and gorgeous roses in this warm farcical comedy, which has the added bonus of taking us through the steps of developing a new rose variety.

FILM DETAILS:

Title: The Rose Maker

Directors: Pierre Pinaud

Release Date: April 1, 2022

Running Time: 95 minutes

Language: French, with English subtitles

Screenwriters: Fadette Drouardm with Blandine Jetand Philippe Le Guay

Distribution Company: Music Box Films

Official Website

AWFJ Movie of the Week Panel Members: Sandie Angulo Chen, Betsy Bozdech, Leslie Combemale, Marilyn Ferdinand, Pam Grady, Loren King, Cate Marquis, Jennifer Merin, Nell Minow, Sherin Nicole, Liz Whittemore, Susan Wloszczyna

Previous #MOTW Selections

Other Movies Opening This Week

Edited by Jennifer Merin

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Jennifer Merin

Jennifer Merin is the Film Critic for Womens eNews and contributes the CINEMA CITIZEN blog for and is managing editor for Women on Film, the online magazine of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, of which she is President. She has served as a regular critic and film-related interviewer for The New York Press and About.com. She has written about entertainment for USA Today, The L.A. Times, US Magazine, Ms. Magazine, Endless Vacation Magazine, Daily News, New York Post, SoHo News and other publications. After receiving her MFA from Tisch School of the Arts (Grad Acting), Jennifer performed at the O'Neill Theater Center's Playwrights Conference, Long Wharf Theater, American Place Theatre and LaMamma, where she worked with renown Japanese director, Shuji Terayama. She subsequently joined Terayama's theater company in Tokyo, where she also acted in films. Her journalism career began when she was asked to write about Terayama for The Drama Review. She became a regular contributor to the Christian Science Monitor after writing an article about Marketta Kimbrell's Theater For The Forgotten, with which she was performing at the time. She was an O'Neill Theater Center National Critics' Institute Fellow, and then became the institute's Coordinator. While teaching at the Universities of Wisconsin and Rhode Island, she wrote "A Directory of Festivals of Theater, Dance and Folklore Around the World," published by the International Theater Institute. Denmark's Odin Teatret's director, Eugenio Barba, wrote his manifesto in the form of a letter to "Dear Jennifer Merin," which has been published around the world, in languages as diverse as Farsi and Romanian. Jennifer's culturally-oriented travel column began in the LA Times in 1984, then moved to The Associated Press, LA Times Syndicate, Tribune Media, Creators Syndicate and (currently) Arcamax Publishing. She's been news writer/editor for ABC Radio Networks, on-air reporter for NBC, CBS Radio and, currently, for Westwood One's America In the Morning. She is a member of the Critics Choice Association in the Film, Documentary and TV branches and a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. For her AWFJ archive, type "Jennifer Merin" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).