With "The Rose Technique," producer-writer Ray Stroeber came up with a promising idea, but director Jon Scheide plays this pitch-dark comedy far too straight. JoBeth Williams has been cast as an ambitious but crazy radio therapist, and her Dr. Lillian Rose is selling her "rose technique," which boils down to treating one's psyche like a rose bush, pruning away "the dead wood" to emerge feeling healthy and empowered.
Williams' Dr. Rose is a sensual woman with a compelling personality who has learned that if she extols the power of her so-called technique often enough it becomes a mantra for the susceptible. As played by Williams with plenty of wit and at full throttle, Dr. Rose has a power over those who easily buy into the latest wrinkle in pop psychology that is downright scary. Williams brings out all that is outrageous and monstrous in the woman, but Scheide makes no attempt to match her in audacity in shaping the film and instead takes a straightforward, workmanlike approach that is entirely too serious and reduces the movie to a minor item.
After Dr. Rose is canned for on-air antics, she lands a temporary gig teaching a course at a community college. It's depressingly credible that only one of her students (Jason Brooks), a journalist who enrolled in a psych course hoping to ease his transition to fiction writing, ultimately resists her simplistic and reckless blather. The utterly ruthless Dr. Rose thinks nothing of manipulating those with fragile psyches if it suits her. Interestingly, when coping with her own setbacks, she seeks treatment from another therapist (Sally Kirkland).
"The Rose Technique," which has been well-photographed by Mark Woods, is otherwise too lacking in the pizazz Williams brings to it to succeed.
'The Rose Technique'
MPAA rating: Unrated
Times guidelines: Violence, sex, adult themes
JoBeth Williams ... Dr. Lillian Rose
Jason Brooks ... Eddie
Sally Kirkland ... Helen
Kari Wuhrer ... Kristi
Leo Rossi ... Artie
A Ray Stroeber production. Director Jon Scheide. Writer-producer Ray Stroeber. Cinematographer Mark Woods. Editor Keith Henderson. Music Ken Mazur. Costumes Christine Bieslin. Production designer Leora Lutz. Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes.
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