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“The Poison Rose” a Cunning Film Noir




Review by John Delia, Sr.

If you are familiar with the term Film-Noir, then you will like the movie The Poison Rose. The film follows the same formula as the classic Chinatown (1974) and even an older film that you may have heard of called The Maltise Falcon (1941). The three things they have in common are a private eye investigating, a beautiful woman and a murder. The Poison Rose many not be at the caliber of the other two, but it does keep you in suspense throughout, has an intriguing storyline and the acting isn’t half bad.

It’s Los Angeles 1971 and private investigator Carson Phillips (John Travolta) has typical clients like deadbeat dads, missing persons and cheating spouses. But, there’s always one case that takes him by surprise like the one he’s about to be handed. Needing to get out of the cross hairs of a bad event on a previous job, he takes this one that will get him out of LA and back to his former hometown of Galveston, Texas.

John Travolta as Carson Phillips in THE POISON ROSE from Lionsgate

Galveston’s the last place he wants to be with a past that includes a lot of high school humiliation involving a championship football game and a former girlfriend Jayne Hunt (Famke Janssen) he ditched because of it. After being led astray from his reason why he went there, another case pops up involving, yes you probably guessed it, Jayne.

Her daughter Rebecca Hunt (Ella Bleu Travolta) has been accused of killing college star quarterback, Happy Chandler (Devin Ellery). With two cases going at the same time, an old friend who “owns” half the town, Doc (Morgan Freeman), keeping an eye on him, and the Sheriff wanting him to butt out of the Rebecca Hunt case, Phillips decides to go against all odds.

Morgan Freeman as Doc in THE POISON ROSE from Lionsgate

Directors Francesco Cinquemani and George Gallo do a good job of making the film look like a film-noir with settings that take you back into the 70’s. With the use of low light cameras, vintage cars, smoke filled rooms and sultry women, they turn Galveston back in time and accomplish the flavor of darker days.

With a fine main cast that give good performances, the film builds with suspense as the it plays out. Travolta works well as the PI who can handle a gun and chooses his playing field. It’s not novel to see him in a gritty film like this one (Get Shorty, Swordfish, Pulp Fiction), so his character may not be new to some, but he still has that persona down pat.

The Poison Rose has been rated R by the MPAA for some violence and language. The camera work is especially good, costumes fit the 70’s and vintage cars are used throughout.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A decent film noir with a compelling plot. (3.5 out of 5 Stars)

Additional Film Information:
Cast: John Travolta, Brendan Fraser, Morgan Freeman, Famke Janssen, Peter Stormare, Robert Patrick, Kat Graham, Claudia Gerini, Nick Vallelonga, Ella Bleu Travolta
Directed by: Francesco Cinquemani and George Gallo
Genre: Crime, Thriller
MPAA Rating: R for some violence and language
Running Time: 1 hr. 38 min.
Opening Date: May 24, 2019
Distributed by: Lionsgate
Released in: Standard

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