Hulu has given the world a steady lineup of original content, and their latest release ‘Rosaline’ is a gem of a film. Everyone knows the tale of Romeo and Juliet, the star-crossed lovers who meet a tragic end. The story has been told countless times throughout film and literature, it almost feels as if there’s nothing more to squeeze out of the Shakespearean classic. Alas! Along comes ‘Rosaline,’ a fresh take on the play which tells the story from the point of view of Romeo’s ex-girlfriend. The concept alone is a stroke of genius, but that’s not the only factor that makes this film feel like a worthy watch.
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Kaitlyn Dever stars as the titular character. She previously starred in the successful comedy, ‘Booksmart,’ and earned numerous nominations for her roles in ‘Unbelievable’ and ‘Dopesick.’ Kyle Allen and Isabela Merced portray the iconic lovers themselves, Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet respectively. Bradley Whitford takes on the role of Rosaline’s father, while Minnie Driver adds some spirit into the role of the Nurse. Additionally, Sean Teale portrays a new character who just might make an ideal love interest for our main heroine. Directed by Karen Maine and based on a novel by Rebecca Serle, this modern take brings personality, humor, and wit to the love story we all know from a perspective we don’t.
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‘Rosaline’ – A Spunky Protagonist
If anyone’s Shakespeare is a little rusty – fear not! Rosaline as a character is barely visible in the original Shakespeare text. She is mentioned as Juliet’s cousin and the first object of Romeo’s affection, though their love is obviously not as “strong” as whatever he has with Juliet, and she serves as a catalyst for the star-crossed lovers to meet. Romeo attends the Capulet ball in the hopes of seeing Rosaline, before he completely falls for Juliet. Throughout the literature analyzation, Rosaline has become an interesting mark in Romeo’s love life, making her the perfect candidate to tell this story. Because so little is shown of the character in previous adaptations there’s a lot of room to play around with the story and make Rosaline whatever you want her to be.
In this iteration, Dever plays Rosaline with spunk and spite, embodying the role of the jealous ex while tapping into relatability and the possibility of another romance. Everyone’s had their heart broken once or twice, so everyone can understand what our protagonist is going through when she watches her boyfriend say the exact same words he said to prove his love to her to someone else. Rosaline is intriguing to follow and is woven into the lives of Romeo and Juliet in a natural way. Since she is Juliet’s older cousin, she becomes somewhat of a big sister to the character. Through Rosaline and Juliet’s friendship, Juliet herself feels like she’s given a little more of a backbone. Furthermore, it was entertaining to watch Rosaline react to the flaws in Romeo and Juliet’s relationship and eventual plans, seeing some of the foolishness behind their ideas. In short, Rosaline just makes for a wonderful protagonist.
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The Shakespearean Background
Filmmakers have had quite a bit of fun recently with taking classic tales and twisting them around, and taking period pieces and altering them with modern influences. For example, earlier this year we saw the latest adaptation of Jane Austen’s ‘Persuasion,’ which included modern vocabulary and references. Hulu’s own series ‘The Great’ uses the life of Catherine the Great as a loose basis while implementing several edgy and comedic notions that give it a fresh identity. Lastly, Amazon’s recently released ‘Catherine Called Birdy’ is a medieval comedy that uses a modern soundtrack and stylized dialogue to tell its story. ‘Rosaline’ hops onto this trend with grace as the film utilizes more contemporary language and music against the background of a Shakespearean world.
‘Rosaline’ is not the first, nor will it be the last Shakespeare adaptation, but it finds its footing from its individuality. The costumes and set design are gorgeous, feeling authentic to the classic Shakespeare identity, but then the characters get to play around with this backdrop. Because the story is already so familiar, you don’t have to waste time setting the intricacies up. Instead, you just get to have fun with it.
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The Rise of the Rom-Com
‘Rosaline’ is a Shakespeare adaptation, but it’s also an enjoyable viewing as a romantic comedy. The rom-com genre in film is unfortunately given a lot of flack for its predictability and lack of seriousness. Society has also frowned upon the genre for its appeal to women, brushing everything off as “just a chick-flick.” In truth, rom-coms can either be really good or really bad, or even somewhere in between, just like any other genre. They’re feel-good movies intended to provide safety and comfort to their viewers, and that’s a wonderful sentiment. Though the genre reached its height of popularity in the 90s and early 2000s, it’s lovely and refreshing to see more additions in the past couple of years. Here’s to hoping we get more gems like this one in the future.
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This film will most likely not go down as the greatest films of all time, but it is enjoyable and entertaining with lots to like about it, and those aspects are all proud accomplishments. Not every film needs to be the groundbreaking drama or gut-wrenching display of cinema. It can seem like every hotshot in Hollywood is looking to create the next philosophical mind-warp, and sometimes you just need a breath of fresh air from all that. Sometimes you want to watch a fun movie that will make you laugh and forget the woes of everyday life. ‘Rosaline’ does just that, and it does it with a good attitude and playful demeanor. You can just tell everyone cared about doing their best on this set, but they also wanted to have fun with it. So, if you’re looking for something to watch this weekend and you need some levity in your life, ‘Rosaline’ is a great pick – even for those who may not be a fan of Shakespeare or his tragic telling of Romeo and Juliet.
Cast: Kaitlyn Dever, Isabela Merced, Kyle Allen, Sean Teale, Bradley Whitford, and Minnie Driver
Director: Karen Maine
Writers: Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber
Producers: Dan Cohen, Kaitlyn Dever, Dan Levine, Shawn Levy, Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber
Music by: Drum & Lace, and Ian Hultquist
Cinematography: Laurie Rose
Editing: Jennifer Lee
By Rachel Beltowski
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Rachel Beltowski is a screenwriter and film critic, with a passion for character-driven stories and thought-provoking themes. From adventure to horror, Rachel enjoys stories which take the audience on an emotional rollercoaster and allow for personal expression that would otherwise go silent. Rachel was drawn to The Hollywood Insider’s dedication to individual perspectives and positive world impacts. The Hollywood Insider has provided a foundation for Rachel to share her insights and leap into the center of the entertainment industry. Rachel hopes to bring a fresh voice into the world of film and television, and share her love of stories with others.