I can’t even count the number of year’s at school that we had to read Romeo & Juliet over and over again. I love Shakespeare’s works, but man that star-crossed lovers story really started to step on a nerve. Rosaline, however, captured everything I felt about the story and then some.
What baffles me is how much conversation a comedy can stir up. I’ve read everything from an analysis on its feminist perspective, to “how dare two guys write a feminist story”, to an over-analysis of film tropes. When has watching a fun comedy film become the focal point of a PhD thesis analysis?
Let’s make things simple shall we: Rosaline isn’t without its flaws, and we’ll get to those in a minute, but it is a fun watch and is a modern retelling of a classic story that also brings forward some of the many emotions and thoughts most of us have had about the story all these years.
Let me explain.
Rosaline is no made-up character outside of the world of Shakespeare. In-fact, she is very much Romeo’s first-love, referenced in Romeo’s sonnets and monologues. We never see her or hear her, only understand her importance in Romeo’s mindset. Some past films have included Rosaline on screen, while many others have not. I think Serle’s novel provides wonderful source material to help Neustadter and Weber craft a witty story for TV, something I think they have more or less done.
Kaitlyn Dever is absolutely sublime as Rosaline Capulet. For me, Dever’s character actually reminds me of people I know, and some that I am very close to. Great people at heart, easily frustrated (and lose all patience) by the stupidity of others, and definitely not giving a hoot about what others think. I loved the performance! It felt real, energetic, and Dever is absolutely brilliant in delivering physical comedy. This talent is going to do some wonderful things, and I can’t wait to see what project she gets involved with next.
Sadly, Dever’s acting gets clouded at times by the painful pace of the film. There is sometimes either too much running or too much talking, and I could never for the life of me understand why. I also felt that Rosaline’s ever-hungry need to chase after Romeo was over done in the film, to the point where the character felt like the village idiot trying to overcompensate! I really wish the filmmakers, especially Director Karen Maine, would have weeded out some extra, unnecessary scenes and put the focus squarely on Dever’s Rosaline and her journey.
While I did feel that performers like Mini Driver and Bradley Whitford were severely underutilized, I think the film did a great job of casting many of the iconic characters from the traditional story. Sean Teale’s Dario was an interesting character to see challenge Rosaline’s roof-breaking persona. By the same token, I appreciated Isabela Merced’s Juliet; a rather refreshing take on the character and her psyche.
The film is a fun watch
The one thing I’ve come to realize as someone who enjoys watching films: I overanalyze and overthink my experience. There are films that are going to make you think, ones that will shatter your emotions. Then there are films that provide a light and breezy weekend view, and this is what this film is.
I have to say that there were times during the film that just made me laugh. Not because that it was funny, but because the characters sometimes just said things we’ve always thought about the story all along, and frankly have never said it out loud (unless you wanted an E on the literature test!).
I also loved how the story took liberties from the original to change up situations and outcomes to weave in Rosaline’s story. This likely impacted the pace above, but I appreciated the work the writers did to try to create some storyline for Rosaline. It didn’t feel like it was some random story of Rosaline’s but a part of the story we all know, just a different vantage point.
Rosaline is a fun watch. At about an hour and a half, its a light, easy watch, and something that you can chill out with a loved one and watch (like I did!). Enjoy the film for what it is, rather than what it could have been. Everything has more potential, but I like what this film has achieved.
Rosaline streams on Disney+ in Canada starting October 14, 2022.
Cover: (L-R): Isabela Merced as Juliet and Kaitlyn Dever as Rosaline in 20th Century Studios’ Rosaline, exclusively on Hulu. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.