Sweet but uninspired, “Bed of Roses” is a genial, old-fashioned romance with very little to recommend it other than earnest, likable performances by leads Christian Slater and Mary Stuart Masterson. Given the recent performance of similar fare, “Roses” should quickly be transplanted into the homevideo flower bed.
Sprinkled with fairy-tale trappings — from the premise to Michael Convertino’s score — pic proves a relatively straightforward tale about a young , career-driven woman whose life ends up being transformed by one simple act of kindness.
Masterson plays Lisa, an investment banker with no time for a personal life who receives flowers from an unknown source. She eventually traces the gift to Lewis (Slater), a florist who had seen the woman crying through her window and tracked her down in order to cheer her up.
Unfortunately, first-time writer-director Michael Goldenberg piles on the cliches, with both characters toting ample baggage — Lisa from a difficult childhood, Lewis from the death of his wife and his own workaholic past.
Because it’s so obvious these problems can be worked out, there’s little suspense during the inevitable “loses girl” section. Beyond Lisa’s college chum Kim (Pamela Segall), Goldenberg doesn’t establish any supporting players, meaning that Slater and Masterson have to carry the entire film.
As a result, the movie has a flat, rather dry feel, with little humor and only occasional romantic flourishes to bring the material to life. It’s also a good rule of thumb that when a director employs two musical montages to advance the story in an 87-minute movie, it probably means the script could have used some additional work.
For Slater, “Roses” appears to have been plucked from the same greenhouse as another, more involving romance, “Untamed Heart,” in which he played opposite Marisa Tomei. As in that film, the actor does a creditably understated job playing a man quietly suffering, in welcome contrast to some of his more flamboyant roles.
Masterson is innately appealing but has a more difficult time making her character accessible, perhaps owing more to the shortcuts the screenplay takes than her own performance.
Tech credits are OK, with New York City emerging as the most utilized supporting player, from Lewis’ elaborate rooftop apartment to lingering shots of the Manhattan skyline.