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For Roseanna

Pleasant look at life, love, death

Toronto Sun
For Roseanna is an inoffensive romantic comedy all about life and love in the face of death.
It's not romantic or comedic often enough, but it's a very pleasant picture with some inspired moments.
Marcello, played by French actor Jean Reno from Mission: Impossible, is a trattoria owner in a little Italian village. He's obsessed with keeping the townspeople alive and well so that his dying wife, Roseanna, will be able to have one of the only three plots left in the local graveyard.
On the farce front, Marcello dashes around town donating blood and giving pep talks to the sick, inventing signs of recovery for the already deceased, and disposing of bodies in unusual places -- anything, just so long as nobody takes up precious space in the cemetary.
On her side, Roseanna (Mercedes Ruehl) is obsessed with finding her husband a new wife and otherwise ensuring that his life will be happy after her death.
For the wife, Roseanna would prefer that Marcello choose her sister, Cecilia (Polly Walker), which leads to just the sort of Lucy/Ricky conversations you might imagine.
Meanwhile, for personal reasons, a rich local landowner refuses to sell land to the town -- so the cemetary cannot be expanded. And then there's the village banker (Roberto Della Casa), steeped in scandal, and there's a returning gangster, and a grasping mistress, and so on and so forth.
For Roseanna has plenty of good points -- it's really beautiful to look at, for example -- but there are a few problems involved in experiencing the movie.
Before you can settle into the story, you have to get past the fact that all the characters, French, American or British, speak English but with an Italian accent. It's a little weird.
Luckily, that sort of distraction fades away, mostly because Reno and Ruehl put in performances that hold your attention regardless.
Director Paul Weiland (Mr. Bean) and writer Saul Turteltaub are both TV people. And alas, in the matter of depth, For Roseanna plays like a TV movie-of-the-week.
It's innocent. It's sweet. The story is far-fetched, but never quite makes it to 'magical'.
Still, For Roseanna is easy watching, and though it seems a long time coming, the ending is terrific.
If blockbusters are not your movie style, For Roseanna is a good alternative.
That's good, mind you -- not great.