Rosaline, a new 20th Century Studios movie premiering on Hulu, features a witty take on the classic Romeo and Juliet story.
The combination of Karen Maine, Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber, Kaitlyn Dever, and Shawn Levy is a match made in heaven. Because of the Jewish holiday calendar, I decided to save the film for my birthday and what a great decision it was. Seriously. Rosaline is the Romeo and Juliet film that I didn’t know I needed–plus, it’s a comedy so the film is right up my alley!
We all know the classic story of Romeo (Kyle Allen) and Juliet (Isabela Merced). There’s one person in this love story that we didn’t meet yet: Juliet’s cousin, Rosaline (Kaitlyn Dever). Prior to Juliet, it was Romeo and Rosaline in love. Like the classic play, they had to hide their relationship from their families because of the feud. But anyway, Juliet captures Romeo’s eye at the masquerade ball that Rosaline misses because she was with Dario (Sean Teale). I mean, something had to happen for them to meet! The comedy just writes itself. It gets even funnier when Rosaline realizes who Romeo is now seeing and then she does everything in her power to screw it up for them and win him back for himself. Of course, we know how this story is going to end…or do we? That’s why I know you’re going to watch Hulu this weekend!
Neustadter and Weber base their script on Rebecca Serle’s novel, When You Were Mine. While I’ve yet to read the novel, it’s definitely worth adding to the pile just to see the differences between book and film. That said, I’d probably be more critical if I had watched after reading the book. You know how fans of books can be! Anyway, this is a classic play that was due for a fresh and comedy approach. Wisely, the screenwriting duo shift Serle’s story from Southern California to a really long time ago in Verona, Italy. It works out for the best. I just love how they take a plot device from the play and twist it in so many ways–unlike the play, Romeo has already met Rosaline in the film before he meets Juliet at the ball.
I love Karen Maine’s direction of the film, too. The film has a nice blend of contemporary and period. Rosaline is feminist in its approach to the characters. This is a woman that wants to be treated like a person, not someone who gets traded to a man in exchange for livestock.
One of the hysterical parts of the film is how Romeo sounds like he did in Shakespeare’s era while the rest of the cast speaks like people do today. That and changing the classic tragedy into a comedy. The fact that they have Kaitlyn Dever starring in the lead role of Romeo’s forgotten ex also shows that they mean business. Dever is a comedic force to be reckoned with and she crushes it in every minute of her screen time. Whether it’s a line delivery or just a facial gesture, there is nothing that she cannot do. After her work in Dopesick, it’s refreshing to watch her in a comedy performance.
With the way that comedy films have performed of late, it’s understanding why 20th Century is launching the film on Hulu. That said, I really wish I could have experienced this film in a theater. Comedies should be a communal experience. If there’s one regret from what the pandemic has done in shifting smaller films to streaming, it’s that comedy films are not bringing in the money unless they have major A-listers starring in the cast. It’s a dire shame and I cannot stress this enough. I’m sure the film will find an audience on Hulu but again, I wish I could have seen it in theaters. Plus, a theatrical press screening wouldn’t have my email address stretching the screen in 100 point font.
DIRECTOR: Karen Maine
SCREENWRITERS: Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber
CAST: Kaitlyn Dever, Isabela Merced, Kyle Allen, Sean Teale, with Minnie Driver and Bradley Whitford
20th Century Studios will release Rosaline on Hulu on October 14, 2022. Grade: 4/5
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