Film Review – Love, Rosie
If this were two decades ago, Love, Rosie (2014) would have been the perfect vehicle for a Julia Roberts or Meg Ryan. The material is similar to the projects that made those two stars. Light romantic comedies that follow the same pattern: girl meets boy, girl loses boy, girl meets boy again, happily ever after. Whatever obstacles get tossed their way is superficial because we know where this is going long before the characters do. And in that way, Christian Ditter (director) and Juliette Towhidi (screenplay, adapting Cecelia Aherns’ “Where Rainbows End”) construct their film as a throwback. That’s all fine, but the narrative is so neat and tidy that every plot point comes about way too conveniently. This is a by-the-numbers outing that doesn’t add much to its genre, if anything at all.
Replacing Julia Roberts and Meg Ryan is Lily Collins. Irresistibly charming and sweet, Collins plays Rosie as a young woman who tries to get her life together even when things fall apart. Her best friend is Alex (Sam Claflin), who lives across the street. Rosie and Alex have been buddies forever, tell each other everything, and are practically inseparable.
Uh oh! Two best friends who also happen to be good looking! There’s no way they would let emotions get in the way of their friendship, right?
The plot follows Rosie and Alex from high school and through their twenties. This is a big time in a person’s life, where they really get to find out who they are and what they want to be. Rosie and Alex – not surprisingly – want their lives to be attached at the hip. When Alex gets accepted into Harvard, Rosie tries to find a way to move there as well. Unfortunately, an unplanned “occurrence” happens, forcing Rosie to stay in the U.K. while her best friend flies across the pond. Will Rosie be able to handle this new development in her life? Will she and Alex finally confess the attraction that everybody already knows they have? Is the sky blue?
Lily Collins and Sam Claflin work well as a movie couple. Collins has appeal to her, and is easy to root for. Claflin – who is essentially taking the “Hugh Grant role” here – is equally amiable as the romantic interest. The way they share secrets through texts and instant messaging adds a nice little touch to their chemistry. They’re fine together, although the changes in time doesn’t help them look convincing as their characters age. Claflin is too old to play a teenager, and Collins looks much too young as Rosie enters the latter stages of the story. The passage of time doesn’t play as important a role as it probably was meant to. Rosie and Alex seem to skip along, looking and acting pretty much the same as everything else moves forward around them.
As they go about their separate lives in different countries, Rosie and Alex always find themselves meandering back to each other for no reason. They both date other people, but no one really “gets” them like their best friend. And that’s where a major problem lies. Rosie and Alex know they love each other, we know they love each other, but we have to go through the entire runtime for them to figure that out. When the chance of a connection comes up, either Rosie or Alex is involved with someone else. When that person becomes single, then the other finds a significant other. It’s a back and forth of perfectly timed relationship swapping, which in the end all feels like filler.
I’m a sucker for romantic movies that play on the “boats passing in the night” idea. Two people who barely miss a connection and are left wondering “what if” strikes a chord with me. Love, Rosie tries to go there, but never amplifies the risk of the two characters never reuniting. There’s no tension here, no true longing between Rosie and Alex. The regret of losing each other is absent, because this universe constantly has them meeting time and time again. Even when one person is in a relationship, their partner magically turns from good to bad in a heartbeat, forcing Rosie and Alex back into each other’s arms. It’s been said that love is truly appreciated when it’s gone. I never got that with these two.
This isn’t a bad movie; it’s just a forgettable one. It’s story paints within the lines, never deviating or taking risks, playing it straight down the middle. It lacks wit, and whatever stakes there are have no real heft or meaning. I’m sure this would make for an acceptable watch on a lazy afternoon, but I wonder if anyone would remember it hours after they’ve seen it. Heck, I’m starting to forget about it just as I’m writing this review.