OPINION: ‘Rosaline’ predictable but easy to watch


Courtesy photo of 20th Century Studios

Since the 1990s, there has been a steady flow of Shakespeare adaptations for the big screen. The latest addition to this tradition, Hulu’s “Rosaline,” is the story of Romeo’s first love, Rosaline (Kaitlyn Dever), as she navigates Romeo (Kyle Allen) falling in love with Juliet (Isabela Merced) while her father (Bradley Whitford) is persistent in trying to arrange a marriage for her.

“Rosaline” is really an adaptation of an adaptation. It is based on Rebecca Serle’s novel “When You Were Mine,” which is based on “Romeo and Juliet.” The book takes place in modern times but the movie smartly navigates the tale back to medieval Verona.

As a viewer, you feel like the plot is just going through the motions but the movie doesn’t want to waste your time. It is hyper focused on Rosaline to the point where you kind of forget about Romeo and Juliet all together.

For the most part, leaving behind the infamous star-crossed lovers doesn’t take away from the story they are trying to tell. But, as each anticipated turn is reached and taken, you can’t help but think if some dumb or daring act from Romeo and Juliet could break the monotony.

You’ll want to keep watching through the predictability because of Dever. She shines as Rosaline, flexing the comedic timing we saw in “Booksmart,” while letting the audience occasionally see more of Rosaline’s sensitive side.

The cast performs well as an ensemble. Minnie Driver as the redubbed Nurse Janet and Spencer Stevenson as Paris were particularly good and owned many of the moments that made me genuinely laugh out loud, not that weird exhale out of the nose thing.

The comedy in the film is very reminiscent of another Hulu production, “The Great” where the lavish setting and royal aesthetics clash with raunchy and generally low-brow humor. “Rosaline’s” problem is that it relies so much on the setting to help some of the jokes land that many of them fall through the cracks.

At one point in the film, Romeo and Tybalt, Rosaline and Juliet’s cousin, draw their swords in the market. Rosaline steps in and says “You all have big swords. How about putting them back in your pants now, yeah?” Yes, funny, they are all dressed up in fancy clothes and she made a dick joke. It just feels awkward and out of place.

There is clearly a lot of effort put into both the setting and costuming that really work to flesh out what might otherwise be a flat production. It adds richness and a historical look that the actors, who all generally have faces that know what an iPhone is, struggle to bring on their own.

“Rosaline” is an effective and fun romantic comedy that doesn’t take any unnecessary risks. If you’re a sucker for all things “Romeo and Juliet” or are a big Kaitlyn Dever fan, give this one a watch.