August 8, 1997

Quentin Curtis

The makers of Roseanna’s Grave must be praying for comparisons with Cinema Paradiso and Il Postino. But this Italian idyll swaps the innocence and charm of those films for a kind of sickly contrivance. Jean Reno plays a devoted husband desperate to ensure that his ill wife, Roseanna, gets a plot in the local cemetery, while all around him people, inconveniently, die. It might have made for a riotously dark comedy, but the note that director Paul Weiland hits is cloyingly bittersweet.

It might also have helped if one or two of the leads were actually Italian. Instead, they speak in cod “Eetalian” accents and shrug a lot. The one genuinely poignant feature of the film is the work of Mark Frankel, more striking and shaded than his debut in Leon the Pig Farmer. This performance, of such promise, was his last before being killed in a motorcycle accident.