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Villa Des Roses

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Villa Des Roses is a captivating period drama released in 2002, a gentle blend of romance, comedy, and tragedy set against the backdrop of the World War I era, a time when society was marked by change and upheaval.

The central plot traces the story of an innocent young French woman, Louise Créteur, portrayed by the talented Julie Delpy. After the untimely death of her husband, Louise opts to leave the French provinces and take on a position as a chambermaid at Villa Des Roses in Paris, a run-down boarding house. Her character is a moving portrayal of struggle and resilience and beautifully depicts the human spirit's ability to endure and find hope amidst devastating loss and trauma.

Louise's arrival at the Villa Des Roses introduces her to a motley crew of eccentric boarders and an equally quirky set of staff. The boarding house is run by art-lover and self-appointed ladies man, Edgar, played flawlessly by Shaun Dingwall. Drawing pathos and humor from his character, Dingwall turns the initially unlikable Edgar into a complex, multi-faceted personality that keeps the audience intrigued.

The interaction between the different tenants forms a secondary plot against Louise's personal journey. Each character is unique and, through their quirks, follies, desires, and disappointments, provides the audience an encompassing view of Paris's bourgeois society a little over a century ago.

Amidst all the tenant antics, Louise navigates through her new job while battling the loneliness of her previous losses. Alongside her endless labor and heartbreaking loneliness, Louise finds herself being drawn to a British painter, Richard Grunewald, adding a dash of romance to the narrative. This unexpected yet enchanting romance further places the narrative into the heart-tugging sphere.

Harriet Walter offers an exceptional performance as Olive, one of the long-term tenants in the villa. An older aspiring artist, Olive's character provides an intricate look into the denial, desperation, and small tragedies that come with unfulfilled dreams and ambitions.

Directed by Frank Van Passel, the film is a unique testimony to the subtleties and restraint of European cinema. It combines traditional visual storytelling's majesty with elegant and nuanced performances by all actors, providing an immersive and emotive viewing experience.

Villa Des Roses is more than just a period piece; it's a delicate exploration of all that is human. It's about love, loss, human frailties, dreams, and the unyielding spirit of resilience. It's about time, an inevitable force that changes everything yet leaves certain human characteristics untouched.

With World War I as the backdrop, the film does not shy away from depicting the specter of the impending war and its impact on the tenants of Villa Des Roses. However, instead of focusing mainly on the atrocities of the battlefield, it portrays how war affects everyday life and its impact on personal relationships and shared histories.

Delpy, with her refreshing and commendable performance as Louise Creteur, perfectly brings out the complexities of a young French widow trying to find her footing in an uncertain world. Shaun Dingwall epitomizes the pretentious wannabe artist, so much so that you can't help but develop a soft spot for his character, despicable as he may initially come across.

Visually, Villa Des Roses is seductive, with the quaint and historical Paris captured impeccably. The set design and costumes reflect the World War I era perfectly, adding authenticity to the narrative. Yves Cape's cinematography offers a crisp visual experience, which complements the detailed narrative.

In essence, Villa Des Roses is a beautifully realized film that touches upon war, love, tragedy, and survival. While it's set in the early 20th century, its themes remain timeless, proving that love and hope can persist amidst upheaval and change. From the memorable performances to the attention to period-specific details and its emotionally resonant narrative, Villa Des Roses is one film that historical drama and art-house film enthusiasts will deeply appreciate.

Villa Des Roses is a Drama, Romance, War movie released in 2002. It has a runtime of 114. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 6.2..

Frank Van Passel
Julie Delpy, Shaun Dingwall
Villa Des Roses is available on .