Villa des Roses
Time Out saysVan Passel eschewed the Hollywood route opened up by his acclaimed debut Manneken Pis, opting instead for an adaptation of a Flemish novel. A European co-production, set in Paris and filmed in English, it is, loosely, a historical romance. The book was set in 1903, but the film shifts the action to 1913, thus further complicating the liaison between a French maid, Louise (Delpy), and a German 'gentleman' (Dingwall), whose commitment to her is at best doubtful. Her future, like that of the continent, veers dangerously out of control. In search of commercial success and art house kudos, the director has gathered a cast with proven credentials: Walter and West as the English couple who run the ramshackle Parisian boarding house where the maid works, and Henderson as the cook and spirited ally of the fragile Louise. Also, fearing costume drama starchiness, he attempts to emulate the panache of Jeunet and Caro by employing digitally produced effects. But the script is too geared towards a contemporary audience to ring true, and the studio sets give no sense of place.