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Louise Créteur's husband dies on the Titanic trying to emigrate, so she must leave their boy Lucien with her old dad in Honfleur and leave the Normandy countryside for greater Paris. She becomes a maid in the run-down Villa des Roses, a dodgy pension run by crafty retired barrister Hugh Burrell and his frivolous, posh wife Olive, an international home to has-beens and would-bes. Louside becomes the lover of German painter, but fears he's not committed and has an abortion. Fate changes, at the eve of World War I. Written by
Frank Van Passel proves again he is one of Belgiums leading directors. Once again, the crew he uses is very talented, he has some big international stars in the film (some), and the film is an adaptation of Willem Elschot classic novel. You can understand, we have been waiting for it. But Frank van Passel fails in this adaptation (or is it screenwriter Christophe Dirickx, who hasn't been very impressionating any more for some years).
The novel is a tipical multi plot story about the guests of an old pension in Paris. Christophe Dirickx and Frank Van Passel choosed to pick out one story line, and to minimize or forget the others. They tri to tell a little and painfull love story about a young servant and a german guest in an old paris hotel in 1913. Sure the story is painfull, but not always as it was ment to be. They meet, the seem to fall in love, 3 minutes later Grunewald (the german guest) seems to have lost his interest in the girl, they have some emotional conflict (Grunewald still loves her?) and the world war one begins and ends the story.
During this film you keep on asking the question why. Why do they fall in love in the first place? Why does she has to give up her father and son for grunewald? Why does grunewald believes they can't live together when they love eachother so much? You don't get any answer, and as a result of this, you lose interest in the story.
Maybe, Villa des Roses just doesn't work as a movie, maybe some novels can't be translated to the screen. But I lost the trust I had in Christophe Dirickx since Manneke Pis, Frank Van Passels debut. There are just to many holes in this script. To many personages disapear before they are properly introduced, like the abandond girlfriend of one of the guest, who we see for the first time the moment she has to leave the pension. Or the "nurse" who "helpes" the couple with an abortion, and then seems to live in the pension?
Not a bad film after all, thanks to the talent of Frank Van Passel and dop Jan van Caille. But after Manneke Pis and Terug naar Oosterdonk, never the less a disapointment. 7 out of 10
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