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‘Rosaline’ movie review: A goofy re-telling of ‘Romeo and Juliet’

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This modern adaptation of the Shakespeare classic hinges its narrative theme on satire and doesn’t get too caught up in intellectualising itself

This modern adaptation of the Shakespeare classic hinges its narrative theme on satire and doesn’t get too caught up in intellectualising itself

Rosaline makes you believe that words and phrases like “yaass”, “it’s been real”, and “whaddup” could be part of the common tongue in 16th-century Verona. This modern re-telling of the famous Romeo and Juliet from the point of view of Rosaline (Kaitlyn Dever), Juliet’s (Isabela Merced) cousin and Romeo’s (Kyle Allen) former love interest, is witty at its best and silly at its worst.

Before Romeo, the blond-haired lactose intolerant Montague — who doesn’t shy away from cheeky poetry — meets Juliet at the masquerade ball, he is climbing Rosaline’s balcony to profess his love. Rosaline, the red-haired Capulet with a flair for rebellion enjoys her share of the forbidden romance, which soon comes to a halt when Romeo cheats on her with her younger cousin Juliet.

Rosaline

Runtime: 96 minutes

Director: Karen Maine

Cast: Kaitlyn Dever, Sean Teale, Isabela Merced, Kyle Allen, Minnie Driver

Storyline: Left heartbroken after Romeo begins to pursue her cousin Juliet, Rosaline schemes to foil the famous romance and win Romeo back.

Rosaline is about the titular Jane Austen-esque character who is miffed at Romeo’s actions and goes on to meddle with Romeo and Juliet’s lives, initiating a series of misadventures that include going pub-hopping with her younger cousin, and only end when her cousin takes a potion that makes her unconscious for a day. During Rosaline’s endeavours to “steal back” Romeo, she is forced to meet with a suitor, Dario Penza (Sean Teale), a brooding dark-haired soldier with a British accent and half-decent poetry recitation skills; to put it in Rosie’s words from Mamma Mia 2, “He worries, he cares and he’s got a boat.”

However, Rosaline is knee-deep in her mission and does not pay attention, and is even irritated at Dario, who is always at arm’s length to save her from trouble. But she struggles to remain that way once he starts to poetically talk about love on a horseback in a beautiful forest.

Kaitlyn and Sean, with their acting, push the movie past the finish line and help make it to the coveted list of movies that have managed to nail the enemies-to-lovers trope.

Paris (Spencer Rayshon Stevenson) as the gay best friend, and Steve the Courrier (Nico Hiraga) make for great supporting actors. So is Minnie Driver who plays the role of a certified nurse forced to work as a handmaiden for Rosaline, as the latter equates the feeling of love to vertigo.

By not having to adapt Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet directly, the movie not only successfully critiques the love story that the classic is based on, but also evades the criticism that movies like Persuasion have been subject to. While it is still advised that purists keep their distance from the film, the re-telling is refreshing and hits the nail on the head when it comes to balancing the sensibilities of the 17th century with the humour of the 21st century.

Hinging its narrative theme on satire and not getting too caught up in intellectualising itself is the movie’s greatest strength.

Rosaline is currently streaming on Disney+ Hotstar.



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