Starring Jean Reno, Mercedes Ruehl and Polly Walker.
Directed by Paul Weiland. Written by Saul Turteltaub, Dick Clement and Ian Le Frenais.
Produced by Paul Trijbits, Alison Owen and Dario Poloni.
A Fine Line release. Comedy.
Rated PG-13 for sexuality and brief language.
Running time: 99 min. Screened at the Santa Barbara fest.
Fine Line—which long had this on its coming slate as “Roseanna’s Grave”—considered retitling this “For the Love of Roseanna” and then settled for “For Roseanna,” probably hoping to avoid the death-title boxoffice jinx. (Although the intermediate title better captured the spirit of this light-hearted affair.)
Although the story seems a grave one–a dying wife (“The Fisher King’s” Mercedes Ruehl) wants to be assured of being laid to rest in the same cemetery as that of her dead child–director Paul Weiland and his three scripters ensure that “Roseanna’s Grave” remains a comic affair. They do this by using a droll scenario that wouldn’t be out of place in foreign-language fare (set in an Italian village, the film is in English): With the local graveyard almost full, Roseanna’s loving husband (“Mission: Impossible’s” Jean Reno) begins to stash bodies as townspeople die.
But the film never crosses over to slapstick, and that’s thanks in part to the surprisingly genuine humanity of the key characters. Reno and Ruehl make for a convincing married couple; though the spouses are accustomed to each other’s day-to-day presence, the two players make the audience see there remains a deep romance between them. As Roseanna’s single sister, who shares the couple’s home so as to be close to her sister and who Roseanna sometimes envisions becoming her husband’s wife after she’s gone, Polly Walker (“Restoration”) does a fine job with the most intriguing part, in that she must be loyal to her sister and yet sexual simultaneously.
Given that Fine Line took this film to ShowEast and is releasing it in two digital formats, the distributor has aspirations to reaching beyond the art-house crowd to crossover audiences. The lack of A-list stars and the overseas locale, which is more realistic than splendid, will likely act as limiters. But the story is a sunny one, despite the original title, and the wistfully happy ending is sure to please audiences of any stripe.