upon a time, there was an old woman who lived in a lonely cottage” in
the country? Yes, of course, it was the country. Or, was it really a
house in the city? According the Brothers Grimm, it surely was a
cottage, most idyllic and unlike the urban home in Rose White. Or, once again, depending on the perspective we chose, I suppose it could be either.
That is exactly the unique perspective taken by Rose White
—the new film from director Daniel Kuhlman.
From the beginning narration, Rose White
is told, basically, as “Snow-White and Rose-Red” from the Brothers
Grimm. The story soon connects loosely to the original we know, adding a
fresh, modern story along the way. In Rose White,
between fantasy and reality are blurred and events are
interchangeable—fantasy seems real at times, while reality seems fantasy
at others. Elements of surrealism give the movie a fairy-tale feel
throughout. The combination creates what is easily a new film classic,
taking a respectable place as a fairy tale itself.
it about?” you ask. Well, I’ll just say, without spoiling such a
wonderful film, that it’s like the original fairy tale, here and there,
with loads of original material added to make it an all new experience.
Alliances are made, bonds of friendship and love are formed, and people
do all manner of bad things that people often do. However, whatever
you do, don’t dismiss this one thinking you already know the story.
Trust me! You don’t!
In Rose White
, there are many
parallels to the Brothers Grimm version, just as there are many
differences. As in the original fairy tale, there’s an elder sister (Erin Breen
) and a younger sister (Deneen Melody
and Lilly. Also included are human counterparts for a bear (Daniel
Kuhlman), and a dwarf—a rather nasty little dwarf I should add—not
unlike his parallel in the Grimm version. One difference is a clever
twist with his name; in Rose White,
the would-be dwarf is appropriately called Little Man. T
also a human referred to, in narration, as The Wolf (Anthony Fleming
III), who is not in the original tale we know; he's complete with his
own pack of other wolves—or, in this case, henchmen. Add to that a pack
of prostitutes that, while necessary in Rose White
, have no parallel in the original—of course! Oh, and is there a fairy tale prince? It's a nice thought, but I'll never tell.
course, there are no prostitutes, drug addicts, drug dealers, insane
characters, or delusions of fantasies in the original; but, that’s what
makes Rose White so unique, dark, and truly original itself. It is exactly those elements that make Rose White
such a gem of modern story telling—a true fairy tale for the times.
It’s tough, down-to-earth, and just as gritty, visceral, and real as
real life is. Rather than bears, dwarves, and possible princes, we have
crime bosses, drug dealers, and prostitutes. Even the Brother's Grimm
might write about such things, if they lived today.
The gritty, visceral realism is just what makes Rose White
a fantasy thriller that also crosses over into the category that I call
real-world horror. It’s horrific, not because of supernatural
monsters, demons, and the like, but instead because it is often a part
of the real world we live in. So, in that sense, Rose White is
also a horror story for the times—one without real people turned into
bears by dwarves, but one with real people turned into things arguably
even worse. Yes, Rose White is a fairy tale with no happy
ending in the real world; but does it, perhaps, give us a sense of
deliverance and happiness in another world? Does it, maybe, give us
that feeling we want in the end, despite all else? I’ll never tell.
is an actress with more unique looks than any actress I’ve ever
seen—anywhere! I’ve watched her play all character types, with truly
diverse appearances, in a variety of other performances. In Crestfallen
Deneen played a jilted, suicidal woman who had to show much emotion
with her face and body language, because the movie had no dialogue. In Rose White,
Deneen plays a young woman in a movie with dialogue, but almost no
speaking time for her character. Once again, Deneen does this with
perfection. Yes, even with few words to say, Deneen stands out and
captivates us with a childlike innocence needed for the part. In her
role as the mute and delusional younger sister, Deneen is a girl who
lives life as a fairy tale, in her own mind, to protect herself from a
painful reality. She shows emotions that make us believe she is
experiencing what she faces in the film. This viewer, for one, could
hear countless words of dialogue from the expressions on Deneen's face
alone—begging, pensive, and wishful looks, along with later expressions
of peace, solace, and happiness. Deneen’s movements are cautious and
reluctant to fit a mood in one scene, while lilting, graceful, and
flowing in others, just as one would expect from a fairy tale princess.
Deneen becomes the character she portrays, absorbing herself in the
necessary reality, as a metaphor to her own part in Rose White
With or without words to say, Deneen’s talent as an actress speaks
clearly here as well as ever! Kudos to Deneen Melody for a beautiful
I often say that the best actors are those that make me forget they're acting. Erin Breen
is an actress who does that every time, no matter where I see her. She delivers a knock out performance in Rose White
as well as ever. The force and impact of Erin’s character (Rosalyn) as
she plays it, is simply awesome to watch. She commands her part, like
the true professional she is, giving the elder sister just the extra
punch we expect. Erin’s character calls for one who’s tough,
streetwise, and stronger than her sister, while still being sexy,
graceful, and even vulnerable. She nails this character like she was
born to play it, absorbing herself in her role, making us believe she is
Rosalyn! Whether playing a prostitute (as Rosalyn) or a fairy tale
damsel, Erin has the range of a true professional, and it shows every
bit in her performance
In Rose White
expressions are always just right to convey the emotion of the moment,
letting the viewer know exactly what Rosalyn is thinking, feeling, or
fearing. Here, I'll adapt a fitting cliche to most appropriately
describe Erin—her face is surely worth more than the proverbial
"thousand words." I truly enjoyed watching her performance! Oh, and
the brush of the rose petal across the lips...just perfect, Erin!
director—also plays the part of The Bear. As the character requires,
and true to the Grimm Brothers tale, Kuhlman is friendly and helpful,
claiming to be out for the best, while still having the potential to be
dangerous; but, unlike in the Grimm version, this bear is not so
selfless in his methods, relying more on plan than coincidence. Kuhlman
plays his part low key at times, and forceful at others, all the more
effectively as a result. There is a certain uncomfortable feeling we
get watching his quiet assertions and calm demeanor juxtaposed with what
we suspect—carnal, selfish motives, ready to spring forth in a moment.
Yes, watch for a lustful glance at the elder sister at an unexpected
moment, and you’ll know what I mean; a very nice touch, it was! Yes,
Kuhlman plays his part in much the same way that a bear might behave,
making us all the more cautious as we watch him and try to trust him.
Kuhlman’s character, as well as the others in Rose White
reminds us of what a true fairy tale is, and the lessons it tries to
teach us—don’t get too comfortable with that wolf (or as it is here,
that bear) in sheep’s clothing! He might just kill you someday!
Speaking of a wolf, Anthony Fleming III
plays The Wolf in Rose White
his screen time is limited but powerful, leaving just the indelible
effect that’s needed for a street-wise drug dealer. Anthony’s delivery
of his few lines alone efficiently develops a character that we know,
because it is otherwise a stereotype. Here however, Anthony as The Wolf
is no stereotype; he is original and unique, making him one to
Last but not least is Tom Lodewyck
as Little Man—another character whose counterpart appears in the Grimm version, but not in the form or character depicted in Rose White
Yes, Tom Lodewyck as Little Man is much like the original fairy tale
dwarf villain we’d expect, even much worse—and I don’t mean the Disney
type singing “Hi, ho, it’s off to work we go.” This guy’s work (if you
can call it that) is as despicable as is his character, and Tom Lodewyck
plays the part to make us dislike him appropriately. His part as the
local crime boss is not the worst of what he does! Tom’s not in the
movie a lot; but when he’s there, he makes his presence known with his
power to make us despise his character. I guess you could call that
great use of limited time on screen.
Rose White was written and directed by Daniel Kuhlman,
co-directed by Brian Kilborn, and produced by Daniel Kuhlman, Deneen
Melody and Anthony Sumner. The story was developed by Deneen Melody and,
of course, based on “Snow-White and Rose-Red” by the Brothers Grimm.
The whole team of directors, producers, writers, and actors has created a
must-see film for modern audiences, as much as for audiences of any
time to come. With the cinematography alone, Rose White is a
work of art in motion—a poem animated, painting its metaphors vividly
for all to see. In one of many scenes to remember, Lilly steps out of
her dark home in the city, into a beautiful forest with sprites in
flight, sunlight, and fairies abound. The transition occurs flawlessly,
just as Lilly's foot touches the ground, moving things from reality to
fantasy, or perhaps the other way around. For this scene and many more
of the kind, Rose White is a movie not to miss. I highly recommend it!
No praise for Rose White
would be complete without mentioning the original music by Matt Novack
His score for the movie is haunting and foreboding, yet magical and
ethereal, elevating the story beyond its limits, to a higher level.
Novack’s music reminds us that it’s reality, while at times convincing
us that it’s a fairy tale. His music flows, with transitions in the
movie, in and out of reality—or, at least, reality as it is perceived.
Novack's score creates the perfect duality of effects, working
flawlessly with the movie’s fairy tale/reality theme. It's actually a
soundtrack I'll be looking for!
Speaking of fairy tale themes, the voice over narration (done by
Deneen Melody) is the icing on the cake! This gives the viewer the
sense of being told a story, rather than just watching a movie. Fairy
tales are classically told, and, as Melody reads, a sense of fantasy is
felt. What's perfect is that the story is told just like a real fairy
tale, using such words as "once upon a time" and the like. The
language, in general, sounds straight from any volume of Grimm's
collected works, although we know it's not. Again, without this, Rose White
could not be the success that it is.
me, in the end, there was a most impressive and poetic metaphor
relating to the bonds formed between Lilly and Rosalyn. You won’t see
it until the end, but when you do, there’ll be no way to miss it. I
wish I could tell you more, but I wouldn’t want to spoil the ending of
such a beautiful film. Let’s just say that, while messy, it ties things
up (or bonds them together) most literally and figuratively.
Rose White is about reality and what it really is; is it what
we experience and believe to be objective? Or is reality, perhaps, just
as much what we see, feel, hear, and sense as real in our own mind. Rose White
is about how physical manifestations of the imagination and human bonds
create anything but something imagined. It’s about how real life can,
indeed, be the most horrific fairy tale you’ll ever know. However
again, happiness, as imagined, is maybe all that matters.
“…and when the elder would say, ‘We will not leave each
other,’ the younger would answer, ‘Never so long as we live.’” ~ The
Younger, Rose White
Erin Breen, Deneen Melody, Daniel Kuhlman, Tom Lodewyck, Anthony
Fleming III, Celeste Williams, Valerie Meachum, Sean Bolger, David
Goodloe, Thurston Hill, Sheri Savage, Marla Seidell, Stephanie Andrews,
Jay DeLaRosa, Anne Marie Boska, and Brooke Lodewyck, Written and Directed by
Daniel Kuhlman, Co-Directed by
Brian Kilborn, Cinematography by
Jeremy Kuhlman, Original Music by
Matt Novack, Story by
Deneen Melody (Based on "Snow-White and Rose-Red" by The Brothers Grimm) Produced by
Breakwall Pictures in association with TinyCore Pictures For information about Breakwall Pictures, click here!