Even if you’ve only seen one rom-com before, you know where this flick is going.
November 06, 2014
Romantic comedy cliches have earned their label for a reason; the more they're used, the more expected they become. And so it's that films like Love, Rosie emerge, wholly comprised of the seen-before and the been-there-done-that, as rendered with similarly customary sweetness. Here's the gist: girl and boy have clear feelings for each other, but are forced to stumble through a range of obstacles. Even if you've only ever seen one rom-com, you know where this is going.
Rosie Dunne (Lily Collins) is an average 18-year-old girl. She's about to finish school and looking forward to a future certain to include her neighbour and lifelong best pal, Alex (Sam Claflin). There's a spark to their friendship that suggests something more, however when they take others to the prom — he escorts Bethany (Suki Waterhouse), and she goes with Greg (Christian Cooke) — it appears fate has other plans. The night has long-lasting repercussions pushing them in different directions. Alex moves to the US for medical school and after falling pregnant, single mother Rosie stays in the UK. Of course, they keep in touch.
Cecelia Ahern's best-selling novel Where Rainbows End, upon which Love, Rosie is based, relates its tale through the pair's emails, letters and texts. The film uses the gimmick to a lesser extent, but their correspondence still guides a feature that charts the will-they-or-won't-they of this unconventional long distance relationship. Director Christian Ditter (best known for French for Beginners) and screenwriter Juliette Towhidi (Calendar Girls) don't stray far from the source material, nor do they need to. When it comes to cloying romantic plots, Ahern literally wrote the book.
What good rom-coms do well, the most predictable included, is cultivate investment in the central couple. And even when forced into silly situations and saddled with stereotypes, Collins and Claflin are suitably charming, selling the camaraderie central to their close platonic relationship, as well as the uncertainty needed to make their 12-year flirtation endearing. They're the bright sparks in an effort otherwise happy with obviousness. You can count on picturesque imagery, heavy-handed pop cues, and tonal wobbling between contemplative drama and over-the-top comedy. Having each actor play their characters from ages 18 to 30 never quite convinces, but that's a minor issue.
That's the film all over — never believable, constantly trite, but endlessly likeable. It's also the rom-com prescription in willingly evoking a necessary wish-fulfillment fantasy. Soppily telling tales of yearning loves and lives dictated by wanting what you can't have, Love, Rosie seemingly aims to be a younger-oriented successor of Bridget Jones' Diary. In its focus on its messy but spirited heroine, its lacings of cringeworthy humour and its adherence to genre formula, it doesn't miss the uninspired mark.