Light and enjoyable, Karen Maine’s Rosaline is a quick, pleasant side quest through the world of Romeo & Juliet anchored by a great lead performance from Kaitlyn Dever.
Dever stars as the titular Rosaline Capulet. Forward-thinking and ambitious, she falls in love with the romantic but empty Romeo Montague (Kyle Allen). The pair promise to meet at a masquerade ball, but Rosaline is paired with a suitor named Dario (Sean Teale) and misses the meeting. At the ball, Romeo falls for Rosaline’s cousin Juliet (Isabela Merced).
Determined to win Romeo back, Rosaline occupies Juliet’s time hoping to make her forget about Romeo. As she schemes, Rosaline realizes true love might actually be beyond her and becomes determined to make things right.
Despite the film taking place in Shakespearian times, the film features tongue-in-cheek dialogue and modern music, lending a more lively tone. Dever doesn’t attempt to change how she speaks, while Minnie Driver (who plays her nurse) speaks in her native English accent. The combos of accent mixes, modern-day colloquialisms, and winking references set the lighter tone.
Dever makes it all work. Though I’m sure she’s a talented enough actress to blend into a period piece, her blunt delivery and expressive face suit the tone of the film perfectly. Allen is fun every time he shows up. His Romeo is almost straight off Shakespeare’s page, but the characters find it annoying and repetitive instead of endearing and romantic. Merced straddles the line between the two, finding a nice balance between reality and fiction.
Driver is the supporting highlight, but is sidelined far too often. Teale gets to do little more than be handsome and decent, but he’s what the story needs him to be. Bradley Whitford is also a nice addition, though he also has little to do. Spencer Stevenson has a fun running joke of the character of Paris being gay, while Nico Hiraga plays a stoner mailman that fits surprisingly well in the setting.
While Rosaline doesn’t reinvent the wheel, at a crisp 96 minutes, the fun cast and silly story are all you need for a fun time. Shut your brain off and enjoy it.
Rosaline is now streaming on Hulu