Villa des Roses
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Top Customer Reviews
On the surface, Villa was a variation on old themes. A needful, romantically vulnerable woman is left in the lurch by a free spirit who opts for status and largesse. When there is no going back and the man is facing oblivion, this former lover is left with profound feelings of loss. Another man, decent and needful in the same way as the woman, is on the sidelines barely noticed. We are left reflecting on what might have been if the right connection had been made. Each member of the larger cast of characters in the Villa is facing his or her own interwoven existential challenges. Their struggles are evidence that life is hard. One makes a point of this in his suicide note.
I gave this film four instead of five stars because of its unrelenting melancholy. It is a downer in the traditional sense and that is enough usually to put me off. But this movie is so vividly real, so true to life, it has to be appreciated. The "production values," as a Hollywood commentator might say, are outstanding. The script is good, really good, but the directing and acting add the depth and subtlety that make the characters and events intensely recognizable and real. Julie Delpy was splendid in this different kind of role (as opposed to "Before Sunrise). Shirley Henderson was especially skillful in her part as the lead character's caring friend. If there were nothing else to recommend, her performance alone made watching the movie worthwhile.Read more ›
Villa des Roses is a dilapidated mansion in Paris that serves as a hotel for an astonishingly seedy group of people. The hotel is 'managed' by a British man and wife Olive (Harriet Walter) and Hugh (Timothy West) who barely eek out a living from their irregular tenants. The one person apparently most in the know is Ella (Shirley Henderson) who is the Cook General and has access to all of the nooks and crannies via a spying system of tubes: she knows all the secrets of all of those housed in the Villa. It is an odd asylum for the British and for varied oddball, lost souls and disillusioned, loony guests in the midst of a rundown Paris.
Enter Louise Créteur (Julie Delphy), recently widowed by the Titanic sinking, who has left her young son behind to seek work in Paris. She gains employment at the Villa des Roses as the Chamber Maid, under strict instruction by Olive to not fraternize with the guests. But one of the tenants, Richard Grünewald (Shaun Dingwall) is a lady's man and soon the two have started a love affair that leads to the tragic end of the story. Richard loathes children, is not at all happy that Louise has a son (though she vows to give up everything for her love for Richard), and when Louise becomes pregnant, Richard cools and encourages an abortion.Read more ›
In this dilapidated old boarding house, no one truly seems to be nice to anyone. I take that back: The mysterious guest who likes to do nude calisthenics tries to protect the vulnerable new chambermaid, a young widow, from the resident cad. However, he does not warn the right person; he tries to appeal to the scoundrel's humanity but he apparently has none.
The other moment of kindness is when the old woman who is abused or neglected by all, feeds a bit of an orange to a small monkey. And that's it.
Other than those two brief moments, this one film contains a suicide, an abortion, and multiple acts of cruelty. We are supposed to care that the scoundrel decides he 'really does love' the chambermaid after all; he's apparently unaware that love is a verb, not a noun. Either way he does not know the meaning of the word; and the film's final failing is attempting to place our sympathies with him rather than with anyone who actually might deserve them.
It is a shame the writing is so dark and bleak; it lacks the passion to even be cynical. The actors do a fine job, and the film is well cast, with talented art direction and evocative cinematography. I would not recommend this to anyone who doesn't like to imagine themselves in a bathtub with a straight razor at the end of the film.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Beautiful and sensitive. But how can they stand all those cobwebs?Published 2 days ago by Willow Behr
I could see where this movie was going but it was well worth watching.Published 7 days ago by cathy Johannes
I didn't care for it that much. It was a very sad movie and plus it was filmed with everything gray and dismal.Published 10 days ago by Clydia Young