ELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times
Many adaptations have been made and performed of Shakespeare’s famous play “Romeo and Juliet” throughout the centuries, and while the titular pair are famous in literature, one character who quickly gets put on the back burner is Juliet’s cousin (and Romeo’s ex), Rosaline.
Recently, filmmakers decided to tell Shakespeare’s famous story through Rosaline’s eyes with the romantic comedy “Rosaline.” I’m always a fan of “What if ...” alternate universe stories, and when I heard about “Rosaline,” I thought it would end up being an interesting and amusing take on the story. Ultimately, I ended up being proven mostly right.
To start off, the absolute star of the film is Kaitlyn Dever in the lead role as Rosaline, and she does an amazing job. Her comic timing throughout the movie with her sarcastic barbs made me laugh out loud more than once, and she also gives Rosaline some much-needed softness, particularly near the end of the movie when everything ultimately comes together. She also has great chemistry with everyone else in the cast, particularly with Isabela Merced (who portrays Juliet) and Bradley Whitford (who portrays her father, Adrian). I also particularly enjoyed Minnie Driver as Nurse Janet, who’s also given some pretty good lines that match evenly with Dever’s comic timing, so much so that there were a couple moments where I thought “Are we SURE Janet isn’t actually Rosaline’s mother?!” She’s basically the character in every other movie that has just absolutely HAD IT with everyone’s nonsense, and she doesn’t hesitate to call people on it, which I absolutely love. I also liked Sean Teale as Rosaline’s eventual love interest, Dario, who was perfectly charming but also not afraid to tell Rosaline when she messed up – I actually wish he had been given a little more of a storyline, but he was very enjoyable when he was onscreen.
Something else I enjoyed about the movie was the overall tone and vibe throughout. There are some anachronisms, such as modern music playing throughout even though such music was NOT around in Shakespeare’s time and more modern dialogue, but with that going on, I was actually rather reminded of “A Knight’s Tale” (one of my favorite movies), and it ultimately made the movie a lot more fun for me. I also enjoyed how the characters are slightly aged up from the original play but were still able to accurately portray the thought process of young people who might be caught up in such circumstances, because let’s face it, every adult reverts back to their less-than-intelligent teen selves at least once in their life.
I also thought the overall design of the movie was very well done. The costuming staff for the movie also deserves a shoutout because they also did a wonderful job. The dresses for the women in the movie are absolutely stunning to look at, and the men’s costumes are also done very well. There were multiple moments throughout the movie when I wondered just how comfortable everyone was since period pieces are almost notorious for having costuming issues. However, the costuming with “Rosaline” seems to strike a great balance between being mostly historically accurate and being comfortable to wear. I also enjoyed the overall set design and thought everything looked absolutely gorgeous not just with the interior shots of the houses but also outside with the various gardens and other nature. I’m not sure where all the filming locations were, but the powers that be did a wonderful job picking them and also making everything look awesome.
The movie also does a great job not taking itself super seriously and is overall a rather light and breezy watch. Those who know the play will see some certain scenes coming, and there are a few other predictable romantic comedy tropes used, but overall, the movie is just a super fun watch and good for several laughs. Ultimately, however, that is also part of the movie’s problem, because there were a few aspects I would have liked to see fleshed out a little more – for example, what happened to Rosaline’s mother, who’s never mentioned? I would have also liked to see Romeo and Juliet themselves fleshed out just a little more, because we never really get the chance to get inside their heads in this context, and they’re almost thrown to the side even though they’re pretty important to the story. I would have also liked to see a little more of a deep dive into Rosaline and Juliet’s relationship as cousins and see what type of bond they have. Overall, if things had been a little more fleshed out, this could have truly been a great movie, but it almost seemed like everything was slightly rushed.
Overall, I enjoyed “Rosaline” and would give it a “B” grade. The cast is great throughout, especially Kaitlyn Dever in the lead role (and who should do more comedy as her career goes on since she has great timing), and the chemistry between everyone is really cool. However, overall, there were a few aspects with the story I wish would have gotten a bit more attention, and I feel like that would have helped make the movie great. If you’re a fan of more of the romantic comedy genre, “Rosaline” will be one you’ll enjoy.