Roseanna’s Grave

Ah yes. This was the movie that convinced me that Jean Reno (Empire of the Wolves, 2005)is one of Europe’s best actors. Equally as comfortable in high-octane action roles as he is in comedic roles such as this. Classed as an America film, it was directed by English man Paul Weiland (City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly’s Gold, 1994). This is not the most important movie of the 20th century and does not overly challenge us with deep insights into the human condition but it does entertain. You will laugh (deliberately), possibly cry but certainly enjoy this movie. This is another one of those “under the radar” movies which deserves to be remembered, watched and appreciated.

For Roseanna is a bitter-sweet comedy, set in a small Northern Italian town. Our Hero, Marcello, Loves his wife and will do anything for her, theirs is a happy marriage, which unfortunately has been touched by more than its fair share of sadness. After the loss of their only daughter some years earlier, they are now faced with the news that, Roseanna (Mercedes Ruehl, Doubt, 2013) is dying, her heart can give out at any time. Marcello who adores his wife, will do anything for her. The only problem is that he has to do anything. There is one very serious issue. More than anything Roseanna wants to be buried in the same graveyard as her daughter and there are only three graves left. The graveyard is full, there is no room for expansion.
There are a couple of options to solve this, firstly buy the land next to the cemetery and expand. This of course is the obvious solution, except for one issue. The owner of the land knows exactly how important the sale is to Marcello and point blankly refuses to sell the land; many years ago was in love with Roseanna, but she had only eyes for Marcello, decades later he still burns a torch for her and refuses to allow Marcello a final happiness, he still regards him as his love rival.
Added to this is Marcello’s one man mission to save everybody in the village. Not from any altruistic love for humanity but rather to ensure there is a grave left for his wife. This mission obviously causes some great comedic moments which also manage to add to the emotion of the total production.

So, faced with caring for his dying wife, ensuring the town-folk don’t die and trying to get the land for the cemetery, Marcello is under pressure. So much so that Roseanna decides he needs help and so enlists her sister Cecilia (Polly Walker, John Carter, 2012) to not only help around their bar, but also to “take care” of Marcello once she is gone. Marcello is having none of it.Marcello is running himself into the ground trying to make life as easy as possible for his wife, while saving the locals from their various dangers, often to the amusement of the villagers.
As Marcello struggles to find a solution for his ailing wife, there are multiple challenges thrown their way, with Marcello and Roseanna deftly overcoming them and never losing sight of the future. As with all good movies, there is a twist near the end, one which perfectly compliments the overall production and finishes the movie off nicely.
A good movie can be like a good meal, made of simple, but perfect ingredients, well produced with care, the end product is unassuming but excellent. That’s what this movie is like. Ask anybody to name a few Jean Reno movies and the usual selection will appear, but look to his credits and you’ll notice a number of films you may not recognise, the vast majority of them excellent, this first among them.

St. George’s Day

This is a capable piece of entertainment, at times it perhaps attempts to be something greater than it is, but overall entertaining. Director by Frank Harper (This is England, 2006) who also co-wrote thje screenplay with  Urs Buehler  who up to now has been mainly technically involved in movie projects supporting camera and electrical work. Harper also stars in the production as Micky Mannock. Micky together with his cousin Ray Collishaw (Craig Fairbrass, London’s Burning, 1990). Craig wants to get out of the family business, His cousin Micky who runs the business with him agrees to buy him out.

This is where the trouble starts. Needing a sizeable amount of cash quickly Micky agrees to smuggle in a drugs load for the Netherlands.  This is where things go badly wrong. Firstly he is working with Russian Mafia who life up to all of the stereo types for violence. This is a fight on the boat over – the boat is capsized in a storm and the Russian on board is shot.

As a result of this, the Russians want vengeance for their man, along with their £20 million; this would be troublesome enough except for the fact that they also have the police after them in the guise of two of Scotland Yard’s finest Inspector Nixon (Jamie Foreman, Layer Cake, 2004) and his subordinate, Proctor (Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers, 2002).

This all leads to a spot of bother where the two cousins need to raise the necessary cash and try also guarantee their safety. In order to buy themselves some time they engage the services of Trenchard, (Charles Dance (Michael Collins, 1996), a London underworld kingpin who is in a position to negotiate a truce and make arrangements for the cousins to pay back the money.

Paying back the money is the problem, but crime partner Albert Ball (Vincent Regan, Troy, 2004) who arranged the original shipment and is based in Amsterdam knows of a blood diamond smuggling route via one of the carriers.  Working with the cousins they begin to formulate a plan for the diamonds.

In order to get the diamonds they piggy back to Europe with other family members and friends who happen to be football hooligans on their way to a match in Europe for an organised fight at it’s fringes.

Using the fight as cover they hatch a plan to rob the diamonds and get out of trouble.  The Russians and the police close behind them thanks to an informer add more pressure than is needed. What unravels is a decent crime caper with a well-populated supporting cast. It perhaps looks to its background alongside movies as The Football Factory etc. but perhaps it also has pretensions to classics such as The Long Good Friday (John MacKenzie, 1980), it falls short here. It should be said in their defence; TLGF is a very high target to aim for.

The many twists have a feel of Deus ex-machina after a while, where one wonders if they are used to strengthen plot weaknesses.

Rating 6/10 an entertaining yarn which should keep gangster and underworld movie fans happy. All of the clichés are here and the movie very much panders to the jack-the-lad London image of rough diamond jingoism masking as patriotism.