Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Rose Cafe

(Daniele J. Suissa, 1987)
Here director Suissa's marginally impressive feel for humane soap opera is completely subsumed by writer-producer Julian Roffman. Continuing his atonement for the groundbreaking energy and invention of "The Mask", here Roffman achieves total disconnect with his soapy formula of class-conscious power feminism plus romantic dependency divided by big-name power ballad. Linda Smith does no harm as the ambitious workaholic chef. But Damir Andrei stacks the narrative deck with his cloddish fiancee, Bronwen Mantel can't redeem the insufferable laff-a-line best buddy conceit, and long-lost high school buddy Parker Stevenson reads less as the perfect lover emerging from the mist than as a horrifying dead-eyed predator. Stevenson makes so many craven end-runs in his pursuit of romantic consent that the film begs for a "Stepfather"-style third act where he reveals the desperation behind his rehearsed charm by pursuing Smith with a cleaver. Then, after a couple trick endings, Smith could drown him in the lake abutting his mansion, thus freeing her to pursue her career as the happy single woman whose existence Roffman has so much difficulty imagining.

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