This twist on the classic play adds characters, alters the ending, and imposes contemporary sensibilities, resulting in an entertaining but uneven romp.
By mixing sumptuous period wardrobes and settings with modern characters, diction, and music, Rosaline differs from its contemporaries in the genre -- films like Enola Holmes and The Princess, which also foist a blatantly feminist perspective onto fairy tales and classic narratives.
The novel approach mostly works, thanks to a charming lead cast (Dever, Teale, Merced, and Allen, coiffed to look like a young Heath Ledger). Much of the film's best humor involves the supporting cast: the fathers who begrudgingly accept their anachronistically progressive daughters (Bradley Whitford and Christopher McDonald), a nurse called Nurse whose actual nursing ability is ignored (Minnie Driver), and a slacker/stoner courier played by Moxie's Nico Hiraga.
Despite the twists in plot and character, not to mention Rosaline's My Best Friend's Wedding-style plotting against Romeo and Juliet, the storyline is ultimately predictable.
The film also has some uneven pacing and feels bogged down at times by its own formula of superimposing contemporary archetypes and sass onto a 16th century story.
The gay bestie in particular feels gratuitous, as does a topless scene starring Teale. Allen's Romeo comically turns out not to be the sharpest sword, a blowhard who repeats his few lines of romantic poetry to each new love interest.
It's that kind of silliness that makes Rosaline fun and best enjoyed by not taking it too seriously.
Read the full review on Common Sense Media.
Images courtesy of Hulu.