The Subject Was Roses

1968, Movie, NR, 107 mins

Review

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Frank Gilroy's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama was beautifully realized in this film adaptation. WWII has just ended, and Sheen returns home from the battle to live with parents Neal and Albertson. In the years since he's been away, his parents' marriage has disintegrated into rancor, disagreements and highly charged hostility. Before he left, Sheen was the apple of Neal's eye and only had a passing relationship with Albertson. Now that he's matured, however, he has a closer tie to Albertson, finding that they are two of a kind. Sheen can't bear to see his parents at such loggerheads and attempts to mediate their differences without standing in either's corner.

Neal begins a subtle campaign of sabotage against Albertson but Sheen sees through this and confronts his mother by saying that he will not side with her or Albertson in any dispute, preferring to remain completely neutral. Neal can't handle Sheen's attitude but she later discovers Sheen drunk and arguing with Albertson in much the same way he had argued with her. Sheen, despite the booze he's ingested, makes some sense. This situation will never get better as long as things remain the same. He thinks that his parents must work out their marital differences without using him as a referee, so he tells them that he is going to leave and strike out on his own.

The movie was not a hit, despite the terrific acting, sharp writing, and outstanding direction from Grosbard, who also staged the play. Never does the emotion explode into oratory, so almost every scene has an underlying tension that continues to bubble. leave a comment

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