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Thursday, 21 September 2017

Retro Review: Bed Of Roses (1996)

Bed Of Roses
Cast: Christian Slater, Mary Stuart Masterson, Pamela Adion, Josh Brolin, Gina Torres 
Genre: Romantic Drama
U.S Box Office Gross: over $27 million 

Plot: A young career girl is swept off her feet by a shy florist 

'Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue, This Movie Is Bland Schmaltz & Patronising Too'

Going into this movie, which coincidently enough is also the title of a Bon Jovi song, I had low expectations and didn't expect much from it; although it was one of those romantic movies that didn't star either Julia Roberts, Meg Ryan and Sandra Bullock - which for starters, was an interesting move. Bed of Roses operates more as a romantic drama with subtle hints of comedy and lightweight scenes, lacking the fanfare of many of the populist romantic comedies and dramas of the 1990s, its low-key affair, what without all of the Hollywood glam and pomp and A-listers that usually comes with these types of movies, would be a good thing to have. That's if this movie had been that great and I bought into the characters. But that is where I get the good points out of the way, because Bed of Roses, besides the leads, whose names aren't what people would associate with this film, is a romantic drama entity that doesn't offer much, never mind new to want me to truly love it. 

Just like millions of other romantic comedies, dramas and dramedies, Bed of Roses has the same, exact conventional plot: boy and girl meet up, they don't get on well at first, then things start to heat up, there is an obstacle or misstep and in the end the boy and girl get together and fall in love. So how does Bed of Roses stack up and given my lack of interest in romantic dramas and comedies, does it offer anything or do anything that interests me and makes me enjoy the movie, even more? Lisa is a workaholic executive and has little to no time for love and being in a relationship when she receives a bouquet of flowers from a secret admirer. That admirer happens to be from a man named Lewis, who doesn't tell Lisa what he actually does for a living. When Lisa catches Lewis staring at her through her window, she does, nothing. The storyline/plot is, in essence, a less serious variant of the stalker with a crush and Lewis's actions today would be interpreted as being strange and that Lisa would have called the cops on him. 

Both Lisa and Lewis have tragic pasts, both are emotionally in need of that love, but that also it is far more difficult to receive it, as it is giving it. Lewis lost his wife and child and Lisa had a difficult childhood growing up and before you know it, the pair of them hook up & fall for each other. There is one thing that goes against Bed of Roses: and that is it had the production feel and value of a TV movie. It just didn't feel like a Meg Ryan, Julia Roberts type of romantic film. 

I don't have a problem with the premise or the film's intentions, but what I kind of have a problem with, is Christian Slater's Lewis. Whilst the first half has a sad flashback sequence of Lisa's childhood, the film doesn't touch upon Lewis. Some scenes exploring his troubled and difficult life, prior to now, would have not also been helpful, but it would make me have more empathy for him. I was far less impressed with Christian Slater, who arguably doesn't provide much to the film, although most of the blame needs to be attached to the writers for his character being written in such a shabby way.

Mary Stuart Masterson is one of those actresses that really didn't break out in the big time, and whilst she comes across as nice and pleasant as her character, she lacks that screen presence those other actresses possess and she doesn't hold a candle to Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts, Meg Ryan. But here, her performance was somewhat good and she played it naturally. I could have done without the dying wife backstory from Christian Slater's character - it felt tacked on and it was unnecessary to have and the background music gets jarring after a while. 

Bed of Roses isn't completely bad and yet it was also somewhat depressing to sit through a movie whereby Masterson's character, Lisa wasn't allowed to develop and be happy and fully content, which was something I found frustrating as I sat through it, and yet to Masterson's credit, she does her admirable best, despite the script and the writers portraying Lisa as a weakling and treating her like this is what the film needs. It doesn't. 

Still, as a movie, this is wholly bland and whilst the sentimentality may drive people crazy, it's the conception of it that is so unremarkable, yet incredulous as well. Add to that the lack of any real conflict that would have not only upped the tension and made the movie more fascinating to watch that, in turn, make the coming together of Lisa and Lewis feel even more satisfying, Bed of Roses plays things far too safe and is pure schmaltzy twaddle. 


Final Verdict:

An inoffensive romantic drama that tries to come across as well-meaning and with good intentions but which never really goes deep with the characters, or be it with the love interest/loser in love protagonist, Lewis. It does have one or two pleasant scenes, but as a film, it just doesn't do enough to stimulate the mind and goes deep in regards to what the meaning of love means for different people. 

The story and romance would have been far more believable, had the writer made these aspects more engrossing, but also far less turgid and insipid. The treatment of the female main character is what truly damns this film for me. 

If you want an example of a movie that does the romantic drama thing far better, I'd recommend 1998's Living Out Loud over something like this. 


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