Rose (2021) Locarno Film Festival 2021

August 5th, 2021
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir/Wri: Aurelie Saada | Cast: Francoise Fabian, Aure Atika, Gregory Montel, Damien Chapelle, Pascal Elbe, Mehdi Nebbou | France Romantic Drama, 102′

Aurelie Saada brings her musical training as a composer to this brilliantly executed and vivacious film about love, family life and second chances.

A crowd-pleasing winner which will particularly resonate with Jewish audiences who will appreciate its finer details, Rose is a riff on Sebastian Lielo’s Berlinale winner Gloria, Francoise Fabian is absolutely magnificent as the grieving widow Rose. Elegant and graceful in her seventy-eighth year the opening scenes see her celebrating a joyous family occasion with her debonair husband (Bernard Murat in cameo) whose subsequent death sends her spiralling into overwhelming grief and confining her to the safety of her comfortable Parisian apartment.

Family and friends offer support but bring their own issues to the party, and this familiar outpouring of collective misery is not always welcome to the person most closely affected, Rose retreating into a world of her own, understanding yet unable to offer guidance or even deal with her three middle-aged children who are all experiencing emotional trauma unconnected to their father’s death. Her daughter Sarah (Aure Atika) is in the final throes of a separation for her straying husband (Mehdi Nebbou); Pierre (Gregory Montel), a doctor with his own marital issues, and Leon (Damien Chapelle) is a prickly man-child in trouble with the law.

In her feature debut Saada brings a maturity and wisdom to this hopeful story with its convincing characterisations and perfectly pitched mise en scene. Francoise Fabian understand her role and strikes just the right balance between vulnerability and self-possession as a woman who has dedicated her life to husband and children but now realises she needs an outside stimulus, and she finds one – quite unexpectedly – in the shape of a local restaurateur (Pascal Elbe) who restores her raison d’ĂȘtre and offers a sympathetic ear at a time when Rose needs it most.

A powerfully emotive score of well known classics and Saada’s own compositions give this soigne romantic drama a potent kick along with Martin De Chabaneix’ lush and sophisticated cinematography. Gracefully paced, smart and highly enjoyable Rose is an upbeat flight of fantasy and a tonic for those looking for a silver lining when family is actually the last thing we need. MT



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