It’s always fascinating to hear a story from a different perspective, especially ones we know so well. In the new Hulu Original film Rosaline, we’re getting William Shakespeare’s famous Romeo and Juliet, but from the perspective of Rosaline (Kaitlyn Dever), the woman Romeo mentions in the famous play before he sets eyes on Juliet.
Romeo and Juliet may be a tragedy, but Rosaline is a comedy based on the novel When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle. The film shows Romeo (Kyle Allen) as kind of a dork who is practicing his poetry on Rosaline. It’s terrible, and he’s clearly more concerned about how romantic he looks rather than what he’s saying to her.
Rosaline wisely doesn’t return his sentiment of love, despite the fact that she’s very much into him. She’s smart enough to feel that something is off here… far smarter than most girls that age would be in such a situation.
Of course, she’s not smart enough not to get jealous when she’s held up before a masquerade ball and he ends up meeting and falling in love with her cousin Juliet (Isabella Merced).
You know where this is going. Rosaline does everything she can to get Romeo back, including enlisting help from her queer (at least that is implied) best friend Paris (Spencer Stevenson) who is set up to marry Juliet to take her out of the game.
Of course, this is a comedy, so a new love interest shows up in the form of Dario (Sean Teale), who she is annoyed with after he’s presented as a future husband, despite his kindness, reasonability, and Oscar Isaac-looking face. The whole premise may sound silly, but it’s actually delightful if fluffy.
Fluffy isn’t a bad thing here. It’s quite a lot of fun. In the tradition of lightly anachronistic films like A Knight’s Tale or Enola Holmes, we have a protagonist who fights against the constraints of her society and could easily fit into our own world with a few clothing adjustments.
Add in elements like Minnie Driver‘s very funny Nurse who constantly has to explain to everyone that she’s “a registered nurse” instead of a woman who raised a child in place of her wealthy parents, and you can see what the tone is.
This is one of those films where you know exactly how it ends and what the writers won’t let happen. I bet you can guess what it is. The Shakespeare play is a tragedy, and this most decidedly is not, but you get that sense very early on.
Again, this is not a bad thing, but if you’re looking for a deep take on the events of Romeo and Juliet, Rosaline is not it.
I don’t mean that as a dig in any way. It’s just an explanation. I love takes like this, even if they’re very much what-you-see-is-what-you-get. Dever is a delightful heroine, with Merced and Allen very appealing as stupid kids who make stupid choices. They’re the sort of kids you root for, despite how frustrated their choices make you. Plus, their choices are far less idiotic than they are in the play.
Rosaline is a lot of fun to watch, with a very appealing cast and a lightness to it that is probably exactly what you need right now. We could all use a little lightness at the moment.
ROSALINE REVIEW SCORE: 7 OUT OF 10
Rosaline will debut October 14 exclusively as a Hulu Original in the U.S., Star+ Original in Latin America and Star Original on Disney+ in other territories. The film is rated PG-13 for some suggestive material and brief strong language.
Jenna Busch has written and spoken about movies, TV, video games, and comics all over the Internet for over 15 years, co-hosted a series with Stan Lee, appeared on multiple episodes of “Tabletop,” written comic books, and is a contributing author for the 13 books in the “PsychGeeks” series including “Star Wars Psychology.” She founded the site Legion of Leia and hosted the “Legion” podcast.