The Rose Garden
The Rose Garden is a pensive and touching drama by Writer / Director Karl Fernandez, and co-writer David Volino – who also stars. The film follows Chris (Volino) who returns to his hometown and pays a visit to his old friend Becca (Victoria Ratermanis). It isn’t definitive as to whether the two were sweethearts, or just very good friends, but either way it is clear that both characters still feel a connection, and perhaps a slight sense of regret. This sentiment is expressed more explicitly when, after a few glasses of wine, Chris quotes from the poem referenced in the title, T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets: “Footfalls echo in the memory / Down the passage which we did not take / Towards the door we never opened / Into the rose-garden”.
There is a beautiful poignancy to this film, driven primarily by the naturalistic writing and subtle, tender performances from the two leads. Volino’s acting is beautiful – by turns shy and hopeful, then wistful and melancholy; his performance dances with nuance and subtext. Ratermanis plays Becca with a gentleness and genial ‘girl next door’ quality, with a slight awkwardness and affection for Chris that hints that there is still chemistry on both sides.
The sound design is also lovely – there is a quietness, and a sense of stillness, in the film as a whole, which suggests a sense of loss, or missed opportunity; of time having moved on to a more subdued place where the happy memories of the past cannot be recaptured.
There were a few brief moments, such as the segue between the opening kitchen scene and the conversation over wine later in the evening, which felt slightly unnecessary – the music here jarred slightly with the wonderful quietness in the rest of the film, and if moments like this could be cut down slightly to make the film's running time closer to 15 minutes, this might make it a stronger contender at festivals, where running time is often at a premium. There was also the occasional moment where the writing became a little too on-the-nose, such as when Chris admits ‘I can’t help feeling that this, all this, could have been mine’ - but overall this is a delightful film; a poignant and heartfelt piece of work, with strong production values, driven by two wonderful performances.
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Written & Directed by: Karl Fernandez
STARRING: David Volino, Victoria Ratermanis