Written and Directed by
Jeff Bemiss (based upon a story by Max Lucado)
Chris Kennedy, Patrick Tuttle, Carey Lessard, Elaine Fabyanic, James Walker
"The Book and the Rose" Review
"Tell me who you love, and I will tell you who you are."
Based on a short story by Max Lucado, Jeff Bemiss's The Book and the Rose is an unapologetically romantic short film wrapped around the wondrously infinite possibilities of love and timeless romance. John Barnes (Chris Kennedy) acquires an old book filled with beautifully handwritten notes and, in an action befitting a 40's era romance, he begins a correspondence with the book's previous owner. This correspondence, he would learn, promises to be far more than simply an exchange of letters.
Winner of 27 awards and an official selection at 56 film festivals since it first appeared a full 10 years ago, The Book and the Rose was an Academy Award semi-finalist for Best Short Film in 2003 and is resurfacing now that its creative team is hard at work on their first full-length feature, A Long Tomorrow.
What's so special about a nearly 10 year old film? The Book and the Rose was filmed in Indiana, specifically at Camp Atterbury with some shots completed at downtown's Union Station. In a similar vein to a Nicholas Sparks script such as The Notebook, The Book and the Rose is an unforgettably romantic film held together by the classic romanticism of lead Chris Kennedy, whose dashing good looks bring to mind Mad Men's Jon Hamm. Anyone familiar with the writings of Max Lucado will likely have an idea of what to expect from The Book and the Rose, where the timeless workings of fate unfold quietly and patiently and with exacting detail.
Set in 1942, The Book and the Rose is painstakingly faithful to the look of the period with the likely exception of certain costuming details evident among the male supporting players. The leads, however, would be right at home in a 1940's melodrama....the kind of film you hate to admit brings a tear to your eye.
The tag line for The Book and the Rose is "He read between the lines... And found the love of his life." Indeed, part of the wonder of both Lucado's original story and Bemiss's film is that the film is for the majority of its 29-minute run time a non-verbal, instead focusing on the audience's need to read between the lines of John's actions, his narrative words and the scenes that unfold onscreen. Rather than your classic "boy meets girl/boy and girl fall in love" scenario, The Book and the Rose unfolds as this wondrous dance of building faith in one another, developing trust and, in the end, the heart will lead you where you need to be.
In addition to Kennedy's marvelous central performance, Carey Lessard is luminous as the guarded yet intentional Sarah Parker and Patrick Tuttle Shines as John's best buddy, Seth. Kudos, as well, to Gregg Conser for his atmospheric original score while Inga Kleinrichert's art direction layers the film with remarkable color given the film's rather modest budget.
While the film's three main characters are L.A.-based SAG actors, Bemiss fills the supporting cast with Indy and Chicago area actors and viewers with a careful eye will likely recognize a few of the film's locales.
As a special treat, and I mean special treat, The Independent Critic and the wonderful folks at Chartercrest Films are pleased to offer a free copy of The Book and the Rose on DVD to a reader of The Independent Critic. Simply send an e-mail to Richard to enter. A winner will be drawn randomly from all entries on Sunday, October 3rd!