Directed by Karen Maine, ‘Rosaline’ is a comedic retelling of the age-old classic of Shakespeare. Streaming on Hulu, this 2022 film is a romantic comedy that uses characters from ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and builds them in an amusing form. While the classic relied on the central couple in the play, this new film chooses to see the film from Rosaline’s angle, who was Juliet’s ex om the original work. It tries to introduce several radical changes in the script in an attempt to make it a breezy new work devoid of the elements that critics find odd about the romantic tragedy.
Rosaline (2022) Movie Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:
A young man emerges from the bushes near his lover’s royal house and climbs up all the way to the window where she is standing. She calls him Romeo and the entire medieval setting makes one assume that she is Juliet from the timeless, doomed romance. That’s when we learn that this is Rosaline, Romeo’s ex. Romeo (Kyle Allen) professes his love to Rosaline Capulet (Kaitlyn Dever) in the same medieval fashion. She asks him back why he is speaking like that. The film instantly lets us know its tonality which is ironic to the prose-dependent works from the past.
Her father (Bradley Whitford) disrupts this romantic gesture in the middle. She answers him and gets back to Romeo for him to finish what he started saying. While he feels that their love story will be one for the ages, she feels it will remain forbidden since she is a Capulet and he is a Montague, and their families are rivals. Early in the next morning, her nurse (Minnie Driver) pops by to wake her up. She seems like the kind of person Rosaline shares her secrets with and also gets the things that are generally frowned upon to be given to a woman. The nurse informs her to get ready for a man who is there to see her with the prospect of marriage.
Yet, Rosaline manages to escape the proposal from that elderly man with one of her usual antics. By now, her father is well aware of it. The next day, when she goes out for a stroll with her dear friend, Paris (Spencer Rayshon Stevenson), and stumbles upon Romeo. Their interaction gets interrupted by Capulets who find it distasteful for the two families to mingle. Their eventual swordfight gets stopped by Rosaline. At night, he brings her a necklace with both their names engraved on it. While professing his love and his wish to live with her in a faraway land and then he goes on to mention having kids. That spoils the mood since it would mean him having great adventures while she sits at home fending for the little ones. When he says, ‘I Love You’, she can’t say it back.
The next day, when she plans to go to a masked ball, her father mentions a guy named Dario (Sean Teale) coming to see her. So, she cancels going out with Romeo and gets on a ride with Dario talking about her wish to get married only to someone she genuinely loves. He mentions coming from a humble background and having nothing much to offer to her. While he takes her out on a boat ride, she mentions having a boyfriend, which upsets her. He decides to go back to the shore, but it suddenly starts heavily raining, which delays their return. Meanwhile, Romeo shows up at the ball alone and then ends up finding Juliet (Isabela Merced) whom he gets instantly smitten by.
Once Juliet returns to her palace, she hurriedly starts writing a letter to Romeo, possibly conveying the urgency of their marriage. Steve the Courier (Nico Hiraga), whom she trusts sending it safely, doesn’t deliver it. The next morning, she learns that Romeo is heading to her palace. She rushes to the balcony with sheer joy only to find out that he is there to pick up flowers from their garden. He goes another way and Rosaline decides to follow him there. In the end, he was rushing to give these flowers to Juliet, to whom he professes his love. Rosaline feels betrayed and hurt.
The next morning, she learns that Juliet is none other than her young cousin, whom she hasn’t met in a long time. Trying to sabotage their bonding, Rosaline advises her to not be emotionally invested in just one man and to play the ground until she is young. She also mentions Romeo as someone who professes his love to many women and isn’t reliable. While her fearless behavior is frowned upon by other Capulets, she manages to make Juliet try having fun with other men and this younger cousin seems to enjoy it. Meanwhile, she has a meaningful and honest conversation with Dario about what they expect from their partners.
Sometime later, when Romeo shows up near their palace, Juliet goes to the balcony and repeats whatever Rosaline says to her. He speaks about his past affair but mentions that he didn’t love that person. Rosaline hears that and says something so loud that even he can hear it. After their interaction, Juliet comes back inside and hugs Rosaline thanking her. That’s when she finds the necklace with both their names written on it. She realizes that it was Rosaline’s plan to steal her boyfriend and mentions that she won’t fall for her gambit anymore.
The next day, Rosaline plots a plan to make her friend, Paris ask Juliet’s hand for marriage. Juliet disagrees with their proposal stating she her agency over her life choices. As a result, her parents rush to Rosaline for her to talk some sense into their daughter. She goes to Juliet’s room to find out that she is missing. She starts looking for him, and that’s when Dario joins her through the dense forest. They walk towards the place of Montagues, expecting Juliet to have gone to meet Romeo. But they get followed by guards and end up running for their life. She returns to her palace the next morning. At the end of their journey, Dario mentions that he is leaving for his home soon, which leaves Rosaline heartbroken. Over the course of time, they seem to have grown fond of one another.
From her interaction with Dario, Rosaline realizes that it is him that she has fallen in love. She instantly takes out all the letters from Romeo, planning to share them with Juliet to tell her that it is her that he is deeply in love with. She hands it over to Steve yet again, but he messes up and gives it to someone who discloses this secret romance. This small mistake ends up in a full-blown declaration of war between the Capulets and Montagues who deny their permission for the couple to get married.
Rosaline (2022) Movie Review:
A fairly predictable yet refreshing take on an ageless romance
While in Shakespeare’s play, Rosaline was written as a gorgeous but aloof woman who departs from her lover, Romeo, for having pledged her virginity for her entire life. The new Hulu romantic comedy directed by Karen Maine flips these character traits on their head and present a comical reimagining of the events. We see Kaitlyn Dever’s Rosaline as a woman who has agency over her thoughts and choices – someone who doesn’t shy away from speaking her mind and being upfront about things. She is far from being aloof. She is self-assured and not to take credit away from her, but it has also to do with her father who is open towards her being the way she wants to be.
Written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (known for writing 500 days of Summer), the script attempts to present a feminist version of the characters that were written by someone, who was well versed with the traditional gender roles. They infuse comical bits sparingly to make the film consistently amusing. The dramatic bits that are not the strongest suit of the writing, get elevated largely due to acting performances, especially the nuanced performance by Kaitlyn Dever. Known for her work in ‘Booksmart’, ‘Dopesick’, and ‘Unbelievable’, she presents a refreshing portrait of strong-headed Rosaline with conviction. Her comic timing is fantastic which enhances the script’s strong suit. Besides, the romance does not feel ingenuine due to her rooted performance in a particularly exuberant and maximalist set design.
It also reminded me of Sofia Coppola’s reimagining of Marie Antoinette with pop chartbusters that try to picture the historical personality – as a young girl processing her inner turmoil. ‘Rosaline’ feels refreshing due to a similar approach through the film’s execution that does not shy away from diverting from the classic’s motives for its characters’ actions. The subject of timelessness is also brought into the discussion where the rumination feels breezily inserted and not heavy-handed. The film attempts to reimagine the arc of romance and also the aftermath of the success of romance. Yet, the undeniable drawback of basing the film on the play is its predictability, which the film cannot escape from.
Rosaline (2022) Movie Ending, Explained:
Does the romance end up being doomed like the classic play?
While Dario and Rosaline decide to help Juliet get Romeo back, the young cousin plots out a plan herself where she would drink a potion that would make their relatives assume she is dead even when she is not. Later, she would wake up from the coffin and then would run away with Romeo to a faraway land. Rosaline sees the holes in her story that could go wrong and advises her not to follow them. But it’s already too late for she has already taken the potion. Rosaline tries to pull the unconscious Juliet out of the palace but ends up being caught by her parents who put her in jail. Rosaline’s father later manages to rescue her from there and she rushes out to find Juliet.
She finds her lying in a casket with Romeo lying on her body and Dario standing nearby. Rosaline assumes her actually being dead and assumes Romeo crying for the same reason. When she reaches them, she realizes that both were acting out this part in case someone comes in. Also, she learns that Dario ran to after her arrest right to Romeo to inform him about what happened. That’s when the parents show up and start blaming one another for the fate of their son or their daughter. That frustrates Rosaline who intervenes and teaches them how stupid their argument is. She also suggests their bickering and war lead to their children’s deaths.
The parents accept their mistakes and speak about being united in the loss. In the middle of this, Juliet wakes up from a coma to witness this moment. Rosaline manages to make her fall asleep yet again and then her nurse declares both of them dead. When the parents leave, Romeo and Juliet wake up from their fake death. Later, the couple sails away on a boat while Dario and Rosaline begin their own tale of romance. She asks him whether their tale will be considered one for the ages. He notes that he doesn’t care about such trivial matters. Both the tales of romance get a fresh start.