August 10, 1997

Ann Billson

Dozens of films are made in Italy each year, but do we get to see them? We do not. Instead, we get ersatz Italiana such as Roseanna’s Grave (12), an Anglo-American production in which a Frenchman (Jean Reno), an American (Mercedes Ruehl), and a couple of Brits (Polly Walker and Mark Frankel) all speak English to one another with cod Italian accents. Reno has promised his beloved but ailing wife (Ruehl) that she will be buried in the local cemetery, but there are only three graves left, so he goes to great lengths to ensure that none of his fellow citizens dies and, when some of them do keel over, conceals the corpses so that no one finds out. Despite the dark-sounding plot, the film remains resolutely sunny, slow-moving and half-baked, relying far too much on its ludicrously picturesque Lazio scenery. The director, coincidentally, is Paul Weiland, who directed the TV Mr Bean.