Working in a trade is a lot like parenting. Not the tantrums or conflict portions, necessarily, but the guidance and cultivation that comes from helping to develop something into its best self. In director/co-writer Pierre Pinaud’s (On Air) new film The Rose Maker, the idea of tradescraft and parenting are conflated in a way that’s as good for the soul as working with your hands. After a release in select theaters in the spring, Pinaud’s The Rose Maker is available on home video, blossoming with bonus features to help extend the sweet, aromatic tale within.
Following in her father’s footsteps, horticulturalist Eve Vernet (Catherine Frot) pours everything she has into the family business, even though sales are down and insolvency is an increasingly growing danger, a threat only made greater when she loses an annual horticulture competition to her more corporate rival for the eighth year in a row. Taking things into her own hands, Eve’s assistant Vera (Olivia Côte) contacts a prison rehabilitation program to contract three people — Fred (Melan Omerta), Samir (Fatsah Bouyahmed), and Nadège (Marie Petiot) — to assist so that Eve may turn things around. If they don’t, the business will go under in the next year. Reluctant yet desperate, Eve goes along with Vera’s plan, inadvertently setting her on a path that might just prove to be life-changing for them all.
The script by Pinaud and Fadette Drouard (The fool) is a fairly straightforward dramedy in which a stubborn expert learns that legacy isn’t just about the objects we leave behind but the knowledge we pass down. Through this, The Rose Maker becomes unexpectedly poignant, even when hitting several familiar beats. Without deviling into spoilers, Pinaud and Drouard create a narrative in which the outcome can only occur not through acts of violence or desperation, but by opening up to others. Eve’s journey is all about her learning that the preservation of her father’s legacy by preferring to close it down versus sell the name is not the same as being passionate about the craft, or any craft. Through simple staging of the actor and set design, Pinaud conveys how Eve sees herself, even as an adult, as the same young child seeking her father’s approval (something which the film makes clear her father never sought and was her choice). This drives her to make dangerous choices and resort to more aggressive language/actions towards those around her. Now, The Rose Maker, for all the previous sentence suggests, is not The Gentlemen (2019), a crime dramedy involving the darker side of the weed business in the U.K.; rather, the narrative takes advantage of utilizing the three new employees, specifically Fred, in order to highlight Eve’s desperation. If not for Frot’s charm and ease blending genre tones, Eve would be someone hard to root for, yet Frot creates someone we not only invest in but root for. Through smart script choices, the audience understands Eve’s motivations quickly and easily, enabling the shift in focus to Fred to feel like a natural evolution of where the events of the film need to go. As one may expect from the setup, rehabilitation doesn’t just occur for Fred, Samir, and Nadège and, thankfully, the mechanism by which this takes place doesn’t seem too far out of reach in the realm of possibility. In particular, the greater strength of the script is how it takes these natural elements and creates a greater metaphor about the cultivation of individuals to find their best selves, just like an artisanal horticulturalist might when breeding new flowers. In this case, just as Eve makes a mark on the three, so do they on her, sharing traits and experience, which ultimately cause all to bloom into their better selves.
As this is a home release, let’s take a look at the included bonus features.
Clocking in around 30 minutes in length (not including the feature-length commentary track from Pinaud), the bonus features foster an opportunity to shift how one might view the film. The first is a sit-down with Frot in which questions are shown to the home viewing audience that she then answers. The questions range from working with Pinaud to exploring the ideas of the film to why she worked on the project. The second interview, with Pinaud, functions the same, but is longer in the length. Both, however, will help color the events of the narrative, directly pointing out the subtext and themes which might have been missed during a watch of the very casual film. If counted properly, there are roughly six deleted scenes that, in some cases, greatly shift how the film would feel as a whole had they been left in. I say “if I counted properly” because none of the scenes have title cards separating them through the over-six-minute runtime. One scene makes a later joke in the film more concrete versus inferred, while another brings Vera in on the more unethical element of Eve’s behavior, allowing Vera an opportunity to say what the audience is likely thinking while also giving Côte a bit more to do. In the very brief “Being a Rose Breeder” featurette, the audience is shown clips of the film while listening to actual horticulturalists discuss the practice of artisanal horticulture. Personally, I’d have enjoyed “Rose Breeder” more if it had been a little longer, taking the opportunity of a home-viewing audience to learn more about the craft.
If there’s a downside to the home release, it’s that The Rose Maker is only available on DVD as a physical format. Perhaps because the film was reviewed on a 4K UHD television, it seemed like so much of Guillaume Deddontaines’s (Tanguy Is Back) cinematography was muted, and not intentionally. From a single frame, one can see a certain lushness of color, a radiance emanating from the flowers, as well as from the production, costumes, and setting, making it clear that the film is as much a tale of cultivating personal growth as it is horticultural excellence. The film appears to be offered in HD digitally, so if you want to get the full scope of Deddontaines’s intent, that might be the better bet (a statement that hurts as this reviewer always prefers physical formats for their permanence and typically better picture/sound).
Charming though The Rose Maker is, at 95 minutes, the speed by which it tells its story is both a gift and a curse. It gets into things and out with incredible ease, but does so to the detriment of getting to know all the central characters beyond the occasional dialogue to help establish subtext for their choices or actions. It’s necessary for the film to shift focus to Fred, the most prominent member of the three new hires, but in doing so shorts Samir, Nadège, and Vera, though Bouyahmed, Petiot, and Côte make the most of their moments, making a surprising indelible impression. Despite this and the fairly predictable ending, The Rose Maker succeeds in cultivating genuine emotion and tears from the audience through its positive affirmations and welcome attitude (even if that takes a bit to get to full bloom). The film may not be as exotic as the flowers Eve and her team bring to market, but there still remains something moving in the air upon completion.
The Rose Maker Special Features:
- Audio Commentary with director Pierre Pinaud (1:35:26)
- Interview with Catherine Frot (9:47)
- Interview with director Pierre Pinaud (14:26)
- Deleted Scenes (6:23)
- Being a Rose Breeder (1:24)
- Theatrical Trailer (1:51)
In select theaters April 1st, 2022.
Available on DVD June 28th, 2022.
For more information, head to the official Music Box Films The Rose Maker webpage.
Final Score: 3.5 out of 5.