The Rose Maker is a sneaky good film that should be on your radar. However, there’s a decent chance that you have no idea that The Rose Maker even exists. First of all, It’s a French film that was only recently released in the US with very little promotion. Secondly, it’s distributed by a company that focuses exclusively on “engaging audiences with exciting alternatives to mainstream entertainment.” There are no Hollywood stars in the movie and the film’s visionary has spent the majority of his career making obscure short films in France. However, The Rose Maker is a delightful and well-executed film that deserves an American audience.
The film’s director, Pierre Pinaud, introduces the film in a conspicuously posh manner. Eve Vernet (Catherine Frot) and her trusted secretary Eva (Olivia Cote) arrive at a rose competition, presumably, to vie for some prestigious awards. At this point, it is totally reasonable to wonder how a filmmaker is going to make a movie about roses interesting. “Rose making” is a niche profession and the flowers themselves are a premium product that few can really afford. There’s just not a ton of relatable material there, seemingly. However, Pinaud successfully navigates these potential pitfalls through his character work and storytelling and produces an entertaining and enthralling film.
Catherine Frot’s portrayal of Eve Vernet provides the guiding light for film. She is resilient, she resourceful, and she is a leader. She offers women an excellent example of what it means to be strong in the face of overwhelming adversity. I think that is a message that American women need to hear right now. Her relationship with her crew, specifically Fred (Melan Omerta), is also worth noting. She provides Fred with a nurturing mother figure despite everything she is enduring and his rugged, off-putting personality. Moreover, she provides material support for her crew of “undesirables” despite her dire financial situation. And although it is not a purely benevolent move on her part, she does take the extra step of making them all shareholders in the business and that speaks to the earnest benevolence of her character.
Besides Frot’s performance, the elements of competition and work ethic really drive this movie and I think that is something an American audience will appreciate, especially in terms of economics. Competition and hard work are two foundational pillars of American capitalism. Americans, especially of older generations, will sympathize with Eve Vernet’s small business challenges and her commitment to her workers and her craft. Americans, especially of younger generations, will find Lamarzelle’s ambition to be a horticultural tycoon, at the expense of people like Eve, easily recognizable and easily contemptible. That polarization will help the film engage audiences by eliciting feelings from them one way or another.
Pinaud is careful not to lean too heavily on the David versus Goliath trope though. Pinaud does an excellent job of making the competition between Eve and Lamarzelle a component of Vernet’s motivation rather than an obsession. That allows the viewer to delight in the journey that the movie takes Vernet and her crew on instead of focusing on an acrimonious fight. Another thing that The Rose Maker has going for it is that it is surprisingly informative. Eve spends most of the movie teaching her crew how to run a horticulture business, but it’s done in a way that really seems to be offering this information to the viewer. The film’s combination of being delightful and informative is very Horatian and makes the film that much more compelling.
At some point during the movie, you might start to wonder why it’s taken so long to make a movie about roses! The DVD release of The Rose Maker (Yes, DVDs still exist.) provides interviews and featurettes that provide even more insight and technical information into what it takes to be a rose breeder. Frot makes herself available for one of the interviews. Pierre Pinaud also provides a feature commentary that provides a great deal of behind-the-scenes revelations. If the movie piqued your interest in horticulture at all they are worth checking out.
Pierre Pinaud skillfully captures the enchantment of Europe and the mesmerizing beauty of horticulture. However, he also presents a sobering reality that creating something beautiful, and enchanting takes a lot of hard work and perseverance. That is something we should all take heed of regardless of our nationality or gender.
The Rose Maker is available on most major platforms.