Rosaline (2022)


Everyone has heard the story of Romeo and Juliet, the two lovers of Verona and all that rubbish. But how many people have heard about Rosaline? Romeo's first love? Never? Well, that can't be helped, since history rarely remembers the losers in romances. They remember the foolish teenagers who committed suicide instead. Well, Rosaline fixes that, with a hilarious and tongue-in-cheek take on Shakespeare's best-remembered tragedy, through the eyes of Romeo's ex-girlfriend.


Rosaline (Kaitlyn Dever) has a good life. She's managed to evade arranged marriages up until now, despite her father's annoyance, and has a persistent boyfriend named Romeo (Kyle Allen) who climbs up her balcony every night to compare her to the sun, the moon, and the stars. She's convinced she is head over heels for the fool, even if she can't understand half of what he says (why can't boys just speak the truth and their mind and not be all poetic?). And she can't wait to see him at the masque ball! She arranges for Romeo to show up there in costume and woo her behind her family's back (since, you know, she's a Capulet and they've sworn to kill Montague's) ... but there's a hitch in her plan. Her father forces her to go out on a boat (she hates water and is scared of fish) with a potential suitor named Dario (Sean Teale). The two of them get caught in a rainstorm and by the time she slops her way up the stairs to the ball, it's all over. Streamers and glitter everywhere and no Romeo.


The next day, she sees him striding toward the house for their usual secret rendezvous ... only for him to swerve right at the last minute and vanish into the garden. In a huff, Rosaline follows him and discovers, to her horror, that Romeo is over her and is now delivering heartfelt blather to her cousin Juliet (Isabela Merced)! Well, this isn't something Rosaline can take lying down, so she decides to sabotage them. Can she break up the most famous lovers in history? Maybe not, but she can certainly change the story a little. Or a lot.


Spoofing a famous story can be hard to pull off, but Rosaline is a lot of fun. It throws in modernizations in a way that feel funny rather than cringe -- such as Rosaline insisting that she wants to travel the world and maybe have a career (her uncle scoffs). It pokes fun at love at first sight, since nobody can tell anybody else why they fell for this person (and Romeo and Juliet have an awkward boat ride together that proves they know nothing about each other other than how starry they think the other one's eyes are). This time the messenger has a real reason to screw up Romeo knowing about Juliet's "faked death" ("he's a moron!"). Characters say, "Are you serious?" "Same." And other modern turns of phrase that suit the moment. Even the "nurse" (Minnie Driver) gets a mini-rant about how she actually has medical training. It's very, very cute, with cameos from various familiar costume dramas (including Nicholas Rowe's stint as Romeo's hot-tempered father) and a host of new talent. Kaitlyn Dever is adorable and likable in the title role, and has good chemistry with her co-stars. She comes across as a likable brat, who has a change of heart and becomes more selfless later.


The costumes are fabulous and the setting is fun. It feels period without being stuffy. And the content is light enough you could watch it with your teen sister -- or even your mother, which is what I plan to do one of these days.


Sexual Content:

Paris is flamboyantly portrayed as gay (feminine affectation, snappy dresser, and makes jokes about men). Rosaline catches the messenger and his girlfriend behind a hedge, implying they've been having a good time.
One f-word, half a dozen uses of sh*t, one abuse of Christ's name.
We see a dead body; two families almost come to violent blows; people fake their deaths.

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