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Review: Rosaline (2022)

This one is for the literature girlies and the romantics.

Maybe I’m not doing my part as an aspiring literary figure, but I don’t get too excited about cinematic adaptations of Shakespearean works. I’m sorry! They’re fantastic stories for sure, but after I was bored to tears watching Romeo and Juliet (1968) in my ninth grade English class, I’ve mostly steered clear of any adaptation of the bard’s work. That is, unless they’re unique takes on his stories like 10 Things I Hate About You (1999) or The Lion King (1994). By the way, check out my review for that movie, here. But after watching the trailer for Rosaline (2022) just once, I was actually very excited to check this movie out! Though it might not star Julia Stiles or feature a pair of animated lions falling in love to an Elton John song, there was enough cheeky satire and endearing performances to make this movie well worth the watch. It’s no The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride (1998) – the pinnacle of “Romeo and Juliet adaptations, FYI – but it’s still pretty good. 

Credit: imdb.com / Hulu / Disney+ via Star / Star+

Based on the novel “When You Were Mine” by Rebecca Serle, Rosaline is a comedic retelling of William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” as told from the perspective of Romeo’s jilted ex-girlfriend, Rosaline. Scorned and upset, Rosaline sets a scheme in motion where she unwillingly finds herself in the middle of literature’s most iconic love story. 

Director Karen Maine also helmed Yes, God, Yes (2019), a great and quirky coming-of-age comedy that not a lot of people saw but I really enjoyed! Rosaline is equally as great and quirky and no one’s really talking about this recent release but I really enjoyed it! Like I said, I’m not normally one for Shakespearean adaptations but the idea to tell this well-worn story through the eyes of Romeo’s jilted ex makes it instantly comedic and unique. There was a lot to love and appreciate about this movie, first and foremost that it was a breezy hour and a half romantic-comedy! Yay! I love streaming those! Even though I DO wish major studios would make more big-budget comedies like they did in the 1990s and early 2000s. Speaking of rom-coms of the early 2000s, if you were someone who grew up watching Ella Enchanted (2004) than you should for sure check out Rosaline. It’s the perfect companion piece. Rosaline has the same wit and endearing rewatchability that Ella Enchanted has, just less cheesy. Oh wow, and I’m now just realizing that Minnie Driver plays a house servant in both movies. Weird coincidence.

I can’t tell you how impressed I was by the costumes, production design and overall aesthetic of Rosaline. Everything looks of fleshed out, so painstakingly detailed and just plain beautiful that I was gobsmacked as each new scene revealed more of Rosaline’s world. I think that maybe because we don’t often see Shakespeare’s world on screen anymore that the rare time I do, I’m blown away by its beauty. Having Rosaline filmed on location in Italy probably didn’t hurt either. That factor helped sell the romance, the fantasy and the magic of the Shakespearean world, enveloping the audience in the enchanting world of his work. My hat is off to anyone even remotely in charge of location scouting and production design. Demerit for whoever was in charge of wigs though because oh wow, the wigs were not good. Perhaps some people were just not meant to wear wigs. 

The most surprising thing about Rosaline that really just tickled me pink was the use of music. Not only the inclusion of Natalie Cole’s “This Will Be” which always reminds me of another great rom-com, While You Were Sleeping (1995) – check out my review, here – but a cover of Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own!” Sometimes the inclusion of appropriate song choices makes an already fun movie all the more fun. Rosaline has an inventive and playful use of pop songs that feels more organic and fun than anything Cinderella (2021) ever did. OH MY GOD, MINNIE DRIVER WAS IN THAT MOVIE TOO. By the way, check out my review for that movie, here.

Remember how aggressive Cinderella was about creating a movie about female empowerment and switching up a timeless tale? Rosaline is so much more subtle and impactful in doing so while delivering genuine laughs and a romantic relationship that you actually root for and believe in. I love Kaitlyn Dever. In everything that I’ve seen her in, she has stunned me. She’s fantastic and has a comedic timing and instinct that is so impressive for someone so young. Dever possesses  a charm and talent that not many young actresses have. She always seems to choose projects that utilize the best of her abilities and I can’t wait to see what other future projects she picks. Dever and the devilishly handsome Sean Teale have an undeniable chemistry that satisfies anyone who even remotely enjoys the enemies to lovers trope. I wish the movie spent a little more time on their relationship rather than Rosaline pining for Romeo. Rosaline starts off strongly but I feel it loses a bit of steam midway through when it loses focus on the story it’s trying to tell. Regardless though, it’s overall a cute and cheeky movie that I recommend. 

Rosaline might not be perfect but I can say with complete confidence that it’s a welcome addition to the hall of 2020s rom-coms, one that I feel will find its loyal audience of fans. I would not only rewatch this movie again but I might actually go ahead and read the novel it’s based on. Hell, I may even go ahead and read Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet!” If I were a high school english teacher, I would definitely show this to my class instead of the original story. Who are we kidding? I’d just show them The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride.

Have you seen Rosaline?

Let me know in the comments or on social media!

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