TorinoFilmLab - Training, development, Funding


Dark Roses

Marianne Hansen



Eva hates her mother. She hates her so much she wants to kill her. And she has wanted to kill her since she was seven years old. When Eva is seventeen, her mother finally dies. Only Eva does not kill her. But in Eva’s mind she is as guilty as sin. So Eva buries her mother in a rose garden and for the next 40 years punishes herself for a crime she did not commit.

She ceases to live her life, partaking in an odd living arrangement with Sven, a man we learn is her father, yet who is not her biological father, because her mother told her just before she died that her father was someone else.

On her fifty-sixth birthday Eva’s past catches up with her in the shape of broken water pipes. Digging up the water pipes entails digging up her magnificent rose garden and, most certainly, the remains of her mother.
Eva must finally face her past and its many secrets: the tragic removal of a loving nanny, the killing of a brutal dog, revenge over a man who molested her, the loss of her one and only love and - finally - the demise of her mother.

Eva must speak the truth: to herself, to her father and to her ghosts, culminating in a transformation that sets her free.


It is my intention to move away from the very black-and-white view of events in the book to many shades of grey. I want to play with the expectations and assumptions of an audience and turn them upside down. What appears to be is not what is. And what is, needs not be so.

Eva spends her entire childhood wanting to kill her nasty mother. Her desire is so strong, her wish so fervent. In the end the mother does die. But in my adaptation, her death is an accident and Eva did not technically kill her. However, Eva believes herself guilty and spends the next 40 years punishing herself.

Her aloofness is motivated by a guilty conscience - a twist on the book. Moreover, the mother is uncaring and callous indeed, but in my adaptation she is not the monster she is made out to be, but merely a flawed and selfish human being who never asked to become a mother. Utterly self-absorbed, she loves her daughter as much as she is able to love any human being. Her love of self would put Narcissus to shame. We hate her, but we also empathise if we are courageous enough to recognise that her darkness is human and belongs to us all.

In the book, Eva, our matricidal protagonist, is portrayed as a victim and often comes across as self-righteous and whiny. I found this quality dislikeable. In my adaptation she is no angel, no more righteous than her mother. Eva is socially awkward with a dark, solemn stare that makes her mother uneasy and believe she hates her. This clash of personalities is the root of their problems.

Eva is a tragic heroine whose ability to love and trust has been beaten out of her over the years, and at age 56 she is a hard and hollow shell of a human being who keeps her emotions tightly under wraps. She feels undeserving of love and denies herself happiness and joy. Her journey into the past and the cathartic cleansing she undergoes helps her put things into perspective, teaches her to forgive herself and to end her self-sabotage, and pushes her towards a new existence where she dares to reach out for love and connection, finally believing she too is worthy.

The past and the present intertwine, and as we watch a young girl descend into darkness from neglect and abuse, we also watch an ageing woman emerge into the light and seize life while there is still time to live. This adaptation is a dark and quirky tale of sordid betrayals, macabre revenges, unconventional family ties, whales, mouse traps and dog’s ears, and finally, but not least, atonement and redemption.

Eva is guilty of a crime she did not commit. She hates her mother and wishes her dead. One day her wish comes true.
Marianne Hansen

Scriptwriter, Film Director

production notes

directed by
Marianne Hansen

Family, Drama