BED OF ROSES is a wonderful fairy tale of a movie, at least the
first two thirds of the movie is, which is the movie's major, but not
quite fatal flaw. It is not that the last third of the movie is bad,
it just does not exist at all! It is a movie that promises much more
than it delivers, and yet it is a touching and romantic fable that
lifts your heart before it makes a fast exit for reasons that baffle
me. I am glad I saw it, but I wish I could have gotten to know the two
lead characters much more. I really care about these two sweet souls.
Playing a character similar to the wonderful one he played in the
much better movie UNTAMED HEART, Christian Slater is Lewis Farrell.
Lewis is a young widower who is a flower delivery man by choice so that
he can see the joy in people's eyes when he gives them their flowers.
One day he delivers flowers from an anonymous giver to Lisa Walker
(Mary Stuart Masterson).
Lisa is a successful but sad and young new VP at a Manhattan
company. She has a mysterious and troubled childhood which has
prevented her from ever falling in love. Her "boyfriend" Danny (Josh
Brolin) is just that, a friend. They are intimate, but she does not
care for him much; he is just a convenience. They are both workaholics
who sometimes fit each other into their busy schedules.
When Lisa gets her flowers, she becomes obsessed with finding out
who sent them. Although Lisa is upset by all of this, her best friend
Kim (Pamela Segall) loves it and tells her, "with a fantasy like this
who wants the truth?" Kim tells Lisa her opinion of her current
boyfriend Danny, "He's the romantic equivalent of a night-light."
In the straightforward but poetic script by writer and director
Michael Goldenberg, Lisa quickly finds out that, you guessed it, Lewis
sent the flowers. He invites her to spent the day with him. The day
turns out perfect which scares her. Lewis tells her not to worry since
"every now and then everybody is entitled to too much perfection."
Shaken, Lisa tells Kim that night that "I don't have room in my life
for somebody this great. I work for a living."
Lisa's fears intensify as Lewis corners the market for roses in
The Big Apple and sends them all to her apartment. He lost his first
wife during pregnancy, and he lives in mortal fear that he will lose
Lisa as well, hence the romantic overkill.
Just when you get thoroughly hooked on this movie, it takes a
sharp turn left followed a couple of minute later by a sharp right and
then a few minutes later it abruptly ends. I could not figure out if
the writer ran out of ideas or what. Perhaps test screening audiences
did not like the last part so the editor (Jane Kurson) just cut it
entirely. For whatever reason, the producers (Michael Haley, Allan
Mindel, and Denise Shaw) should have demanded the script be finished
properly before they released the film. This is an enthralling film
transformed into a mediocre one because of this truncation. I suspect
the cause is the editing because there were other parts, like her
abused childhood, that are hinted at somewhat obliquely and where you
are keep waiting for more explanations or flashbacks that never
materialize. I think they exist on some cutting room floor. The movie
feels more like a great work in progress than a completed film.
Perhaps not on the level of Mahler's tenth, but at least something
special that I wish had been fully developed.
The acting by Masterson and Slater is marvelous. She delivers a
compelling and complex performance. Slater gives a genuinely tender
and touching one. In one of many good scenes he takes her to listen to
children's stories at the library not because he has kids but because
the storyteller is so good. The chemistry between them where he loves
her, but she is scared to love him is quite believable. Pamela Segall
takes the minor role as the friend and makes it special. I liked the
makeup where they had Kim look much prettier than Lisa making the
audience wonder whether Lewis would fall for Kim at some point in the
show, and if so when.
The sets (Stephen McCabe), especially of Lewis's parents at their
large Normal Rockwell style house at Christmas, give a warm and
peaceful ambiance. The cinematography (Adam Kimmel), particularly in
the use of lights and shadows, cast a melancholic overlay on top of an
outwardly happy show thus mirroring the trouble in Lisa's inner self.
BED OF ROSES runs way too short at just 1:27. It is rated PG for
a couple of bad words. This romance would not offend anyone of any
age. There is no sex, nudity, or violence of any kind. There are a
few quite effective but simple kisses. Nevertheless, this is one very
romantic movie. Okay, two thirds of a romantic movie. The movie is
strong enough that even though they amputated it, I still recommend it,
but I am unable to give it more than ** 1/2 because of this travesty.
Copyright © 1996 Steve Rhodes