During the last fifteen years Jean Reno has slowly transformed himself from a successful European actor to a well-recognized name in world cinema. The charismatic Moroccan-Frenchman has built a film resume that includes such internationally renowned hits as Luc Besson's Subway(1985), Le Grand Bleu(1988), Leon(1994), and John Frankenheimer's Ronin(1998). In 1998 Reno was also a part of Roland Emmerich's remake of Godzilla and unfortunately ever since his charisma as an actor has been steadily declining. His Hollywood involvement has hurt his image in France as well and since the release of Les Rivieres Pourpres/The Crimson Rivers, an average thriller, there has hardly been a film that one could consider a success.
For Roseanna, better known as Roseanna's Grave, is one of the last films Reno made before his notorious involvement with Roland Emmerich. A romantic comedy shot entirely in English the pic tells the story of Marcello (Reno) and Rosa (Mercedes Ruehl) who reside peacefully in the most lovable town of the Italian countryside.
The couple owns a small family inn where everyone likes to have a meal. Unfortunately, Rosa is seriously ill and has decided that the only place where she wants to be laid to rest is the practically full public cemetery. As every loving family man in Italy would do Marcello is committed to have one of the remaining three graves for Roseanna. The only problem...Roseanna isn't ready to die yet two of the town's elderly, one of them in a coma, are well on their way to the cemetery. Marcello has to do the impossible and guarantee that no one else dies so he could fulfill Roseanna's wish.
I waited a long time for New Line to release this film on DVD as it was not available anywhere in the world, including Reno's home country (the German poor version was not available at the time). Upon its release back in 1997 I saw For Roseanna twice and could not stop smiling at Reno's character. In an Italian village where everyone speaks English with quite possibly the strongest Italian accents I have ever heard this film is guaranteed to brighten your day. From Reno's heavy walking, the town's dingy cars, the local inn where everyone eats pasta with a bottle of red, the beautiful women, and the impossible for Marcello task of not letting anyone die so he could fulfill Roseanna's wish the pic is indeed a tremendous success.
Directed by Paul Weiland, better known for his directorial involvement with the now notorious British sitcom Mr. Bean, For Roseanna never really pretends to be more than what it is - a light romantic comedy.
Unlike many of the fluff Hollywood mass-produces, however, For Roseanna actually works. Even though the plot suffers from some minor weaknesses, such as the rather predictable outcome of the romance between Marcello and Rosa, not even for a second I felt annoyed by it. On the contrary it made me enjoy every second of this film and wish everyone had as big of a heart as Marcello's.
How Does The Disc Look?
In a typical for New Line Cinema manner For Roseanna is presented in a solid anamorphic transfer preserving the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Deep and vibrant colors, nice contrast, and a flawless print that has little for me to complain. I noticed a tiny bit of edge enhancement and a few dirt specs in the opening scene when the camera zoomed over the village but really nothing that could possibly distract you from a pleasant viewing experience. Perhaps the only problem that I have with this DVD presentation is the fact that New Line has included a Pan/Scan version of the film (similar to the way Columbia used to do with their old releases) which you could select from the main menu. My question is: WHY??
How Does the Disc Sound?
This DVD offers a rather active 5.1 English language track that is neither impressive nor lacking in any way. Good, solid presentation.
Unfortunately aside from a trailer for the main feature and a selection of trailers for other upcoming New Line films there is nothing else on the disc. This is extremely disappointing for me as I was hoping that New Line would include a few deleted scenes, and why not a commentary, it would have been so refreshing to hear Reno speaking. What a missed opportunity.
To say that I was elated when a few months back I found out that For Roseanna will be released by New Line Cinema is an understatement. Folks, believe me when I say that this is Reno at its best. I would easily rank For Roseanna at the top of his career accomplishments among such films as Leon, Le Grand Bleu, and Ronin. A simple film with so much heart...HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.