Review of Rosaline: Kaitlyn Dever Puts a Fantasy Spin on Romeo and Juliet

Review of Rosaline: Kaitlyn Dever Puts a Fantasy Spin on Romeo and Juliet

Romeo lusted after Rosaline, the cousin of Juliet, before falling in love with her. The all-seeing sun / never saw her counterpart since first the world began, he boasted to his pals, while also lamenting her rejection ("She hath forsworn to love, and in that vow / Do I live dead that live to tell it now"). Romeo's cousins persuade him to enter a Capulet dinner covertly in order to lift the despondent Montague heir out of his dramatic doting. There he meets Juliet, and their epic love story starts.
Rosaline has been pushed into the spotlight in an effort to humanise a spectral picture. She receives more than a fleeting remark in various interpretations of Shakespeare's tragedy, such as Carlo Carlei's Romeo & Juliet (2013). In some, the point is her presence. Rosaline, which has its Hulu debut on October 14, joins the select group of works (including Shonda Rhimes' ABC miniseries Still Star-Crossed and Harman Macdonald's play After Juliet) that refocus the narrative by making Romeo's first love the main character.
Rosaline, a film directed by Karen Maine, reimagines the tale of its titular character as a relatable coming-of-age tale and imbues her with the outspoken but toned-down feminist spirit of contemporary Disney heroines. The character Rosaline, played by Kaitlyn Dever in this instance, defies the social norms that applied to women in Verona, the setting for the movie. She is direct, obstinate, and quick to disagree with her father (Bradley Whitford), who is frustrated by the difficulty of finding a husband for his daughter.

Rosaline insists on getting married for love, much to the confusion and disapproval of her father. She is a Capulet who is secretly dating Romeo (Kyle Allen) of the Montagues at the start of the fast-moving movie. Romeo risks being seen by Capulet guards in order to meet Rosaline on her balcony during their illicit encounter, which takes place under the moon's watch. Their romance is doomed by their mismatched personalities: Rosaline is a somewhat overthinking realist, whilst Romeo is an impetuous romantic. The young woman is unable to reciprocate Romeo's declaration of love.

Rosaline, however, doesn't want to lose Romeo, whether for reasons of true fondness or a dependency on his attention. In order to patch up their awkward romance, she invites the embarrassed man to meet her at the Capulet masquerade ball. Rosaline's father, however, arranges for her to meet another potential suitor that evening—a gorgeous sailor by the name of Dario (Sean Teale). Rosaline is uninterested, and when she misses the ball, her contempt for this similarly incisive man only deepens.

The screenwriting team behind 500 Days of Summer, Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, transform Rebecca Serle's book When You Were Mine into a quick-paced narrative. The inevitable love triangle between Romeo, Rosaline, and Juliet (played in the movie by Isabela Merced) is depicted in Serle's novel as a small-minded and bitter conflict in modern Southern California. Although they don't strive to imitate Shakespearean style (the characters speak in modern English), Neustadter and Weber return the drama to the past and lessen the tension. Rosaline is envious of Juliet, but a developing affection for her calms her rage. The younger cousin is originally taken under her wing in an effort to convince her to split up with Romeo, but as their relationship grows, Rosaline begins to regret her deception. Early signs of their eventual camaraderie make the flimsy backstabbing drag.

Rosaline also strays in ways that bring much-needed lightness and humorous relief. Rosaline's even-tempered nurse (Minnie Driver), a spacey courier (Nico Hiraga), and her closest friend Paris (Spencer Stevenson) are given more development and steal the few scenes in which they appear. Shakespeare's sad romance was actually about h**** and impetuous youth, which was underscored by the anachronistic pop music selections that helped create a fun atmosphere. Romeo and Juliet, ironically, are the least interesting characters in Rosaline because their love comes across as dull and uninteresting.

When our "too fair, too intelligent" Rosaline switches from jilted lover to romance architect, the movie becomes more engaging. Although it's a debatable adjustment, Dever makes it entertaining to watch. She strikes a balance between Rosaline's contradictory personality traits—petulance and impatience coupled with unexpected flashes of moral clarity and maturity—and keeps her character consistent even when the movie falters.

Rosaline's main driving factor is love, which our protagonist learns to appreciate throughout the story. In the end, her relationship with Romeo is beneficial rather than detrimental. She turns to other people in her life, including her father, her nurse, and even Dario (albeit initially somewhat grudgingly), who assist her in accepting the full significance of such a strong emotion.

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