REVIEW: The Sweet Hand of the White Rose [2010]

Score: 6/10 | ★ ★ ½


Rating: NR | Runtime: 16 minutes | Release Date: April 8th, 2010 (Spain)
Director(s): Davide Melini
Writer(s): Davide Melini

“I’m happy when I play alone”

Dealing with the tragic nature of death and the myriad split-second decisions we make to set us on our inevitable courses towards mortality, Davide Melini‘s The Sweet Hand of the White Rose becomes both a cautionary tale and memorial to those lost. Shown as a diptych of two parallel existences fatefully intertwined as perpetrator and victim, the subject matter is obviously a personal one with the writer/director.

Mark’s (Carlos Bahos) late-twenties bar patron drinking away his sorrows and White Rose’s (Natasha Machuca) youthful child enjoying the playground by her home had never crossed paths before and might never have if not for the circumstances putting them on the same long winding road home. Innocence and carelessness meeting as it always seems to; one naive to the world’s troubles struck down by another knowing them all too well. Thinking about this daily route that both have traversed with ease every day until now makes the utterly senseless and random accident more tragic than it already is.

Playing with the idea we all die alone, Melini has us journey through a brief exposition of each character before they merge. Solitary against the backdrop of life’s twists and turns, both are away from those they would usually have by their side. There is no love or compassionate wait until an inevitable end, just the deafening sound of metal crushing metal and flesh hitting pavement. In such an instance the victim has no one but her assailant to expel her last breath with; no one to help, hold her hand, or promise everything will be okay. The accidental crime ends as quickly as it begins with only silence to look on.

An intriguing film revealing hidden truths, it’s use of the supernatural and spiritual adds a deeper meaning to the event. Guilt and remorse fall upon a church altar without the ability to make a difference while the visage of a lost soul remains to seek vengeance. With abrupt cuts between Mark and White Rose’s tales, we shift focal points until we’re caught within a horror interlude of ghostly revelation. Neither violent nor aggressive, this tense sequence through the maze of a mausoleum end with a release of the two tormented souls at its center. A psychological sleight of hand on behalf of Melini, the result becomes a stirring commentary on our world’s carelessness with its greatest gift—life.

It’s a wonderful message to wake us from the doldrums of self-pity inside a stylish thriller beginning with the electric “Let Me Go” by The Talkatives on Bar Zeppelin’s stage. An opening credit sequence portraying the excess of sex, drugs, and rock and roll available at our fingertips, the dull pound of anger in Mark’s face shouldn’t be overlooked. Troubled by his first world problems and the bitterness of love’s thorns, we’re unsurprised by his lack of appreciation for those around him. We often see transgressions like texting while driving as a danger to ourselves, but rarely understand their effect on those sharing the road. Only the sweet smile of Machuca skipping towards the camera reminds us of the consequences.

And while the acting leaves something to be desired—most blame goes to the dubbed, monotone English-language voices—The Sweet Hand of the White Rose succeeds by its visceral representation of Melini’s pain. Deftly using the camera and our anticipation to show what’s off-screen, we’re thrust into this unfortunate parable to witness a nightmarish vision of unrelenting conscience needing to show its master the truth of his actions. Sweetly sad and poignantly relevant, it’s still hard to believe preventable tragedies like this continue to occur.


You can view the film on YouTube.


photography:
[1] CARLOS BAHOS as Mark
[2] LEOCRICIA SABÁN as Mary
courtesy of thesweethandofthewhiterose2010.blogspot.com

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