One thing that is clear after a viewing of Love, Rosie is how much of a talent actor Lily Collins is. Collins plays the titular Rosie with such warmth and heart that she is a big reason to like the film, in spite of its many, many flaws. In fact, the entire cast of Love, Rosie is one of the best things about it, all of the film’s main players give pitch-perfect performances that suit the often maudlin material well. Sam Claflin also deserves special mention for his performance as Rosie’s best friend and, inevitably, love interest Alex. The two share a great chemistry on screen that helps to add some believability to the farcical nature of the film’s second half.
The film begins at a wedding with a tearful Rosie explaining how today was to be the happiest day of her life, a statement that romantic-comedy fanatics will immediately realise is a very bad thing. The audience is kept in the dark as to the exact nature of the celebrations as the plot jumps backwards in time twelve years to Rosie’s graduation dance. Rosie and Alex are best friends with a blossoming attraction for one another, but when they share a booze-fuelled kiss that Rosie drunkenly forgets and Alex is told to forget, their seeming fairy-tale romance becomes an exercise in stretching credulity instead.
One of the secondary themes of the film is family, and it is a theme that is unsatisfyingly explored by director Christian Ditter and screenwriter Juliette Towhidi. Rosie’s father Dennis for example, played by Lorcan Cranitch, is an Irish Catholic (a major affiliation for a huge decision in the early part of the film) whose mother told him to never strive for that which was unobtainable, a very Irish-Catholic viewpoint, creating a poignant counterpoint within her son. In contrast to his mother Dennis wants only the best for his daughter, telling her that she can do anything she puts her mind to. The relationship between Rosie and her father and other familial characters is full of warmth and quite intriguing, but the film spares little time to explore these relationships in any depth, instead opting for one more missed romantic opportunity between the protagonists to
pad out the run time.
Part of the fun of the film is its otherness when compared to its traditional American counterparts. The charm of the English cast makes most of the saccharine sins of the film forgivable, and the fun they have at their trans-Atlantic cousins provides some of the film’s best laughs. Sam’s college girlfriend Sally is a truly frightening extrapolation of the highly-strung American socialite, providing some of the more hilarious scenes the film has to offer. The contrast between old world and new is so vast that Rosie even breaks the romantic comedy fourth wall complaining that Sam is using too much psycho-babble since moving stateside and that he should just; ‘Talk like English people’.
But what begins as a quirky and original take on the romantic comedy formula quickly casts off its originality in favour of banality. In fact the film does a complete 180 and tries to prove its romantic comedy pedigree by subjecting its audience to scene after scene of unrequited love. It is a great shame that the filmmakers chose to retread such a well-worn path rather than explore something a little different, resulting in a film that is enjoyable to watch but ultimately disappointing in its unoriginal conclusion.
Love, Rosie is a film that is as confused about its plot as it is about its grammar. Love and Rosie are apparently separate clauses, one apart from the other, never to meet; except of course, at film’s end. What begins as a fresh take on the worn formula quickly falls back into the ruts, only holding the waning attention of its audience with some truly engaging performances from actors on the rise. If you love your romantic comedies then Love, Rosie has a lot to offer, the only thing it is short on is originality.
Love, Rosie is in cinemas November 6.
Review by Liam Kinkead