Love, Rosie (2014) / Comedy-Romance
MPAA Rated: R for language and some sexual content
Running Time: 102 min.
Cast: Lily Collins, Sam Claflin, Suki Waterhouse, Christian Cooke, Jaime Winstone, Tamsin Egerton, Lily Laight, Art Parkinson, Alisha Heng
Director: Christian Ditter
Screenplay: Juliette Towhidi (based on the novel, "Where Rainbows End", by Cecelia Ahern)
Review published January 28, 2015
I've been wondering when Lily Collins (The English Teacher, Mirror Mirror) would finally breakthrough and become the star actress she seems destined to be, but Love Rosie won't be the vehicle that takes her there. Based on the 2004 epistolary novel, "Where Rainbows End", by Cecelia Ahern, whose previous adaptation, PS I Love You, is equally overbearing, the Christian Ditter (The Crocodiles, French for Beginners) helmed romantic comedy taxes one's patience early and often.
Initially set in England, the titular Rosie is shown crying at a wedding, but we're not exactly sure why. Flashbacks to her childhood reveal her best-friendship with a boy her age named Alex (Claflin, The Quiet Ones), and though they both developed crushes with one another, they've never been able to break through the barrier of the 'friend zone' to become something more. In fact, they are so averse to being the one who makes a play but gets rejected that they openly encourage each other to seek dates with other people, even though, deep down, they long to be together.
After an evening in which they both lose their virginity to other people they take to the school prom, they seem like their romance could kick in down the road, as they both have plans to relocate to Boston to get their degrees, but a wrench gets thrown in the works when Rosie turns up pregnant and nixes her plans without telling Alex exactly why. She decides to give up the child for adoption, but eventually decides to keep the baby, and what follows after that is a series of poorly timed get-togethers between Rosie and Alex in which their desires of a union continue to be thwarted by an increasing amount of family and relationship baggage they've amassed over the years apart.
During the sparse scenes in which Ditter allows for a quiet or introspective moment, Love Rosie encroaches, perhaps without necessarily meaning to, into a groove of good, romantic drama. Unfortunately, the best of these beats happen between Rosie and her father, who doesn't factor into the story in a large enough way, while the sputtering nature of the romance is full of contrived elements that exist merely to prolong the inevitable pairing of Rosie and Alex, with the worst among them involving Alex's confessional hand-written letter (they text and Skype incessantly, so why snail-mail all of a sudden?) that is hidden from Rosie only for her to stumble upon it later in a locked desk drawer (why her hubby would not just toss out or burn it is beyond comprehension).
Meanwhile, the 12-year span of the film (the book spanned about 45 years) is handled in a not-terribly convincing fashion, with Collins not able to play a mature enough woman just entering her 30s in later scenes, and Sam Claflin looking far too old to play someone in his late teens in the earlier scenes. Even with this, there's nothing shown that suggests Rosie and Alex would make a winning couple other than the fact that their love has gone on unrequited for so long, and the fact that neither can effectively communicate to the other in person his or her innermost feelings belies their closeness. More often than not, they're lying or covering something up -- is this the basis of a successful long-term union?
Unfortunately, quiet moments are not something Ditter appears to be too comfortable letting go on for very long, as the film is filled to bursting with old pop tunes that are so painfully on the nose that they manage to take you out of the story to reflect upon them. This may be the third film I've heard the Salt-n-Pepa song, "Push It" used during a childbirth sequence. The movie goes for outlandish ribaldry, with a few liquid baby eruptions, and coital snafus, including a condom that comes off during sex that goes missing "up there", requiring an embarrassing hospital visit. It's very weak comedic material all around.
Like most romantic comedies, its predictability is a liability to overcome, and Love Rosie doesn't garner nearly enough laughs or emotionally stirring moments to make it worthwhile, save for viewers who are only looking for attractive actors engaging in embarrassing sexual situations. It's a hurried, noisy jumble of energy directed without comedic momentum.
©2015 Vince Leo