The Name of the Rose is a sorrowfully mediocre screen version of Umberto Eco’s surprise international bestselling novel.
Confusingly written and sluggishly staged, this telling of a murder mystery in a 14th-century abbey has been completely flubbed by director Jean-Jacques Annaud and his team of four (credited) screenwriters, as they struggle even to get the basics of the story up on the screen.
Tale has English Franciscan monk Sean Connery and his novice Christian Slater arriving at an Italian abbey in preparation for a conclave. After a series of murders at the massive edifice Connery, in the style of an aspiring Sherlock Holmes, undertakes an investigation of the deaths while more delegates continue to arrive.
One of the latecomers if F. Murray Abraham, an inquisitor who sees Satan behind every foul deed and who threatens to condemn his old rival Connery due to the latter’s insistence on seeking a rational solution to the crimes.
Connery lends dignity, intelligence and his lovely voice to the proceedings. His performance, however, along with some tantalizing E.M. Escher-style labyrinths in the interior of the abbey, are about the only blessings.