The Reel Review
Shakespeare’s iconic romantic drama Romeo and Juliet is re-told from the comic perspective of Juliet’s sharp-witted cousin Rosaline, who also just happens to be Romeo’s recently jilted, former girlfriend who wants to win him back, in this Hulu rom com starring Kaitlyn Dever (Booksmart). It is loosely based on Rebecca Serle’s 2012 young adult novel, When You Were Mine.
With a winsome lead and great period costumes, Rosaline had the potential to be really fun. But this predictable yawn of a screenplay from the normally spot-on writing duo of Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (The Fault in Our Stars, Paper Towns, 500 Days of Summer) just isn’t that funny. Dever does her best, but the naturally hilarious Minnie Driver and Bradley Whitford, as Rosaline’s nurse and father, are both vastly underused in forgettable, throwaway roles. Of the remaining cast, Sean Teale (Mr. Selfridge) is the lone impressive standout as Rosaline’s potential future love interest.
The decision to showcase modern-day pop tunes and dialogue – perhaps to appeal to fans of the historically revisionist, Bridgerton – will only further annoy Shakespearean purists, given the already lackluster, witless story. Rosaline is a very average, lazily executed film that doesn’t live up to its cute, clever premise. But if you do see it, stick around for the scene during the closing credits – just ignore the bad, fake-looking set design.
• Rosaline has been in development since 2010 when Keira Knightley was first set to star. Others previously set to star as Rosaline over the past 12 years of development: Deborah Ann Woll (Jessica from the HBO series True Blood), Allison Williams (Get Out, Girls) and Felicity Jones (On the Basis of Sex, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story)
• In Shakespeare’s iconic play, Romeo’s ex-girlfriend Rosaline is frequently mentioned but never seen.
• Director Karen Maine’s directorial debut was the 2019 comedy Yes, God, Yes, which she also wrote.