The Blue Rose Poster

The Blue Rose (2023) Review

Writer/director/star George Baron was sixteen when he started filming The Blue Rose, two years later he had a finished feature film playing on the festival circuit and getting picked up for release. And not just any film, but, as you might guess from the title, a tribute to David Lynch that’s as bizarre as any of his own films.

It opens with a woman on stage planting a seed and watering it with what appears to be blood. A blue rose sprouts. Cut to three blue roses growing in a window box of a 1950s suburban home. Inside, Sophie (Nikko Austen Smith, This Game’s Called Murder, Son of Clowns) dances around her immaculate kitchen making pies.

The dance becomes a deadly one when her husband Harold (Manny Liotta, Babylon, Beast of Our Fathers) enraged about something unknown punches her, and she stabs him to death.

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Apart from the highly stylized setting, something else stands out, Sophie and Harold are an interracial couple, something that wasn’t legal in the US until the late sixties, and not well tolerated until long after that. It’s obvious that whatever is going on, The Blue Rose is anything but an ordinary film.

A murder calls for an investigation and Detectives Dalton (George Baron) and Lilly (Olivia Scott Welch, The Sacrifice Game, The Party Slasher) are assigned to the case by Mr. Vallens (Ray Wise, AM1200, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me) who also happens to be Dalton’s father.

What follows is a film that, thanks to the cinematography of Blaine Dunkley (Scab Vendor: The Life and Times of Jonathan Shaw, Heart of Invictus) is as beautiful as it is strange and unnerving, and by the final act that’s saying a lot.

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It’s by then that Sophie’s older sister Norma (Danielle Bisutti, Dwight in Shining Armor, Insidious: The Last Key), her mute servant Kiyo (Evee Bui, Chirp, Buzz, & Other Sensations, Demon Star), nightclub singer Catherine Christainson (Glume Harlow, Hope Dealer, American Girl) and Rose (Jordyn Denning, Turbo Cola, Before Summer), for whom the film may or may not, be named for have taken and to a large degree taken over, the stage. And did I mention the rabbits with sledgehammers?

The Blue Rose also makes use of another symbol, a blue triangle, that’s seen on houses and a lapel pin worn by an equally enigmatic bartender named Lloyd (Logan Miller, Escape Room: Tournament of Champions, We Summon the Darkness). His presence in turn suggests that The Red Bloom, where Catherine performs, may be the film’s equivalent of The Overlook in The Shining.

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The result is a showcase for a talented cast playing strange characters caught up in a plot that many, including myself, at some points, will find indecipherable. Scenes such as one character getting off watching another drink a glass of milk, both are fully clothed, are right up there on the WTF scale. What, if anything, it means, or if it’s just a beautiful exercise in weirdness for the sake of weirdness, is left to the viewer

And that ambiguity will be the reason some people will seek out The Blue Rose and why others avoid it. I found the cinematography and performances well done. But the script, while it was interesting in places, left me frustrated with its lack of clues as to what is actually going on and if my interpretations of what I was watching were right, which is the same issue I have with Lynch’s films, his fans however should find this much more to their liking. Either way, it will be interesting to see what Baron does next.

Dark Sky Films will release The Blue Rose in select theatres and to Digital and VOD Platforms on July 12th.

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