“The Book and the Rose” plain and simple, is a humble little ditty that plays to the heartstrings of the Hallmark Hall of Fame crowd. It’s a passive yet genuine tale of loving melodramatic curiosity for the chick flick in all of us.
Set in beginning of World War II, “The Book and the Rose” throws us quickly into the world of chiseled face dough boy John Barnes, who unlike most of the men in World War II who study the hottest pics of pinup girl mags, John likes to snuggle with hot cup of joe to the latest scribbling of Tolstoy. He notices small notes from the previous owner in the book and decides to do a little investigation on who exactly is this mystery scribbler and why didn’t her mother teach her not to ruin other peoples property! Seriously, after some quick research, he writes the woman and a coast-to-coast pen pal relationship starts. As the relationship grows, so does their curiosity. Just as they’re finally about to meet, John is drafted into the Army and the rendezvous falls apart. Time passes and just when he gets his papers to be shipped out to England for assignment, they both give one last try to meet at a local railway station in Philly before his departure.
“The Book and the Rose” could be best described as a Reader’s Digest version of those Lifetime TV movies you were forced to watch with your girlfriend, but in this case it’s a pleasant ride that never really outstays it’s welcome. Chris Kennedy plays John as not your typical jock of the World War II. He’s intelligent, thoughtful, and actually gives a damn when he finally leaves the dame for war when most men of his nature would blow his last buck on the cathouse before shipping off. Director Jeff Bemiss keeps things tight and lets the audience sway back and forth with the movie’s melodramatic emotions and pleasantly gives us a not your typical boy-meets-girl ending. The film only falls out of character when it’s settings feel more like an ad for Banana Republic than America during WWII. The latest Gap Kaki’s and American Eagle loafers are a little too obvious for a period piece film. I’m sure this was due to budget restraints so we’ll let it slide. So light a boysenberry passion scented candle, cook that “no-carb” meal for two, dim the lights, and veg out to “The Book and the Rose.” Your date will thank you.
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