By Geof Carter
My response to “A Beautiful Rose” is one I that I find impossible to dissociate from my wife’s involvement as a full-time employee at an area Shelter House. The piece raises problems of domestic and sexual violence that are very much a part of the lives of our community. One of the strengths of this piece is that, at some level, it works along the lines of a Public Service Announcement on behalf of the lives that such violence shatters.
One of the difficulties this piece raises, however, is how the viewer is literally put in the shoes of a sexual perpetrator. What are we to make of the author’s moves of putting us into this position? The opening of “The Beautiful Rose” speaks to hope and/or transformation, but there is a gap in this piece as it moves towards that potentiality within the shoes of a perpetrator. Certainly the piece asks the viewer to fill in the gap between the opening and closing image of the rose, but its emphasis on a “shower scene” cannot help but open itself to the associations with one of Alfred Hitchcock’s most indelible images from Psycho. Although there is none of the splatter of horror film, the march from the front door to bathroom follows the voyeuristic narrative arc. It’s a dimension of the piece that puts into tension the effort to raise awareness, while also acknowledging that crimes of violence and bigotry come at great cost.
Although this short piece is nowhere as shocking in its confrontation of rape and violence as Gaspar Noe’s, Irreversible(2002), perhaps the empty shoes challenge the viewer to see what is depicted as a reversible act. That is, unlike Noe’s unrelenting depiction, perhaps this piece challenges us to find a way of rejecting both the role of perpetrator and victim. To find new ways of seeing, hearing, and speaking about such crimes that are literally duct-taped over in the film. Reversing this violence—to allow a rose to rise and blossom once more—would seem to be a nascent possibility of this effort.
For me, “A Beautiful Rose,” recalls the work of a much different film than Noe’s. In my wife’s work at Shelter House, she sometimes has occasion to speak about Alain Berliner’s Ma Vie En Rose (1997). It’s a movie about a young boy named Ludovic who insists on being accepted in the gender of a girl. This remarkable movie, which I believe speaks on behalf of the LGBT community in a way that “A Beautiful Rose” seems to also aspire, is suggestive of the way rose petals might be re-folded into different pleats altogether. The challenge for the viewer in both is to see the possibilities of a rose and to allow it to grow in whatever direction it will. If there’s a line from Ma Vie En Rose (1997) that speaks to what it takes to accept “A Beautiful Rose” it may be in an ending that represents new beginnings:
Mother: “Boy or girl, you will always be my child.”
Father: “Our child.”
Ma Vie En Rose 10 (Video)
[Has been blocked on YouTube – link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3A8xWNhmR0%5D