Written by Ankit Ojha
What to Expect
A movie like Love, Rosie has a very specific set of expectations and is directed toward a very specific audience. Is it a bad thing? Not really; in fact, we always require a cheesy-hopeful-feel-good love story every once in a while. Considering, however, the barrage that’s been piling up, this new addition doesn’t seem like an all-too-welcoming one.
This film, like a lot of the recent ones of the crop, reeked of an all too conventional schmaltziness that couldn’t be shaken off, what with its trailer re-emphasizing its target audience and its content. An adaptation of Cecilia Ahern’s Where Rainbows End, which was a fairly well-received book amongst its audience, the movie’s other – very prominent – red signal would be that it is, unfortunately, an adaptation of Ahern’s book. Cheesy as it was (which a lot of people loved), P. S. I Love You, adapted from her debut novel, was not a great film at all. Despite a charming cast of Butler and Swank, the relative high-concept that was the book’s linchpin was transformed by its makers into a mere prop which but depended on nothing but a big tub of clichés conveniently poured into the film – leaving all the potentially genuine emotion aside.
Which brings the expectant audience to right now, wondering if this will top it all, considering the trailers do not help us in making any sort of decision. As always though, trailers cannot always be a decisive factor in how good or bad the film is. Case in point: If I Stay boasts of one of the best trailers a film of this kind could have.
And if that’s not enough, there’s Lily Collins who, despite being an absolutely charming and competent performer, has had some of the worst film choices in her career so far in the form of Mortal Instruments and Abduction (specifically the latter, because of fairly obvious reasons).
Now there’s not a lot to be pleased about the film, is there? This is where one’s supposed to think long and hard on what should their level and form of expectation of the film be before entering the film, because superficially, the film does not look the least bit attractive.
What’s it About?
Alex (Sam Claflin; The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) and Rosie (Collins) have been best friends since childhood, and have grown up together being absolutely close to each other. The thing is, they’ve got an insane amount of sparks. The problem? They never seem to hit it off. Always in different times, places and spaces, the two are constantly in touch through letters, text and video messages, exchanges of photos and the likes. Their feelings for each other are made to stand the test of time through the course of twelve long years. The question is: do they manage to pull it through? Or does it collapse like it normally should on an average?
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Ahern’s novel, to my puny little knowledge of it (and here’s me thanking my awesome friend Pragya for the insanely great perspective she threw on me over how different the novel and the film are from each other), threw in a lot of realism interwoven through the obvious schmaltz the romantic charm was wrapped in. Written in an epistolary fashion, the novel would have made for a fantastic film had it conquered a similar route (remember The Perks of Being a Wallflower?). The movie, unfortunately, doesn’t.
The film is filled with leads who don some pretty affable characters who go through insane metaphorical evolutionary changes, which makes it important for the viewer to digest each change; absorb it on an emotional level. The film doesn’t leave any time for that to take place, however. What we’re instead plated out is an assortment of linearly placed scenes that barely last a few minutes before the next begins. This severely harms the prospects of anyone ever getting to connect with the characters at all.
Now this shouldn’t be mistaken for it being presented in a no-nonsense fashion. No-nonsense films as such have been successfully able to balance straightforward moments with some absolutely lingering ones ((500) Days of Summer), where characters are blunt, but they do end up having those moments of pure emotion that strike out as exemplary.
Alex and Rosie are charming, relatable, almost-everyday characters – which most definitely pulls this film off the dreaded generic-and-ultra-stupid-rom-com-for-desperate-teens spot, although the cliches the film falls for every now and then give the movie the impression of sliding into the very trap it so desperately wants its characters to wiggle out of. There are a lot of incidents that can’t be predicted through the film, even though it sets us up for the inevitable ending. The very effective thing about this set of moves screenwriter Juliette Towhidi pulls upon the viewers is that most of them are at some pretty random moments in the movie. You’re not given any sort of foreshadowing. They just happen, like life. On the plus side, avid fans of the book will be in for a surprise as there’s a specific set of twists that aren’t in the book which – although some might complain aren’t gracefully handled in the process of tweaking during transition – will surprise to a very large extent.
Of course, at the risk of repeating myself, the very core of the emotion the characters should share amongst each other is lost due to the weird hurry to finish off with one scene to get another started. For a runtime of 102 minutes, it was an unsettlingly fast movie; one that deserved a bit more to be on the 2 hour mark to give the characters and their situations a bit more of that breathing space than they were offered. Ditter should have attempted to understand these characters a slight bit more than treat them as mere props or business transactions. The disappointing result that the film is exemplifies my statement.
The movie looks absolutely pretty, what with the striking cinematography it holds. The production design adds to that quaint prettiness, what with sticking majorly to the kind of technology people used to use in the nineties to great effect. From bulky computers to black and white Nokia phones to Beyoncé and Lily Allen singles that reflect the timeband, the movie’s mostly accurate with their years-gone-by feel they’re attempting to recreate. The soundtrack of the movie is an intelligent and highly enjoyable one – without forgetting how ridiculously witty it is – but suffers from severe dilution of emotion in scenes where the music is more of a distraction than anything else. While it’s understandable why some tracks were definitely the high point of the scenes they were used in, it was increasingly difficult to feel correctly in the scenes due to the very peppy distraction the singles were being. The edit is conventional, but very snappy. This allows the whole movie to be a breathless one. Of course, had this been an action flick it would have been an asset. Not that I wanted slow scenes, but a bit more space would have been an effective move altogether.
To Perform or Not to Perform
Lily Collins is an extremely competent performer, and she proves herself here with the character she dons. She’s a complete natural, apart from her winning confidence being an absolute pleasure to see on screen. Claflin is yet another natural, putting his dynamic emotions on display pretty well. Suki Waterhouse plays quite the bitch and ramps it way down on the bitchiness quotient, thereby allowing the character to have more than one dimension. Jaime Winstone pitches in an absolutely engaging one as Collins’ best friend. Others are fine.
Love, Rosie makes a lot of changes, diverging severely from Ahern’s source material. Not that this is a bad thing at all; a film is an entirely different art form relative to the novel, and changes are oftentimes needed to reflect the content in context of the visual medium that’s trying to adapt text to screen. But what writer Towhidi and director Ditter sacrificed in their ambitiousness of trying to pack in an insane amount of content in their runtime was to give the film and its characters some space. While this might fit in perfectly with the bracket the makers are trying to target (the youth, obviously), fans of the book might not find the culmination of events any flattering – and I’d have to agree, for in my research, a lot of climactic events in the book match pace and realism very well. It’s usage would definitely give the film an insane amount of credibility a la The Notebook, but alas!
In the end, the film’s a disappointingly generic and unusually fast – or hurried, if I may – romantic comedy, which fortunately boasts of credible casting and charming chemistry between leads Collins and Claflin, along with quite a few absolutely unpredictable plot-twists and some adorable-realistic moments sprinkled around the film – albeit not as much as they should have been.
Go for it only if you know what you’re in for. You’ve been warned!
Star Rating: 2 / 5