Rosaline is a fairytale for the disillusioned – for those sick of the poetic bravado of classic love stories, and the over-the-top clichés of everyday relationships. Wrapped in light satire, the film takes viewers on a wild ride with Rosaline Capulet, the ex-girlfriend of Romeo and cousin of Juliet, from Shakespeare’s ubiquitous tale, Romeo and Juliet. There are a lot of plays on fate and lessons for the heart – what someone wants might not exactly be what they need. The feature is what Camila Cabello’s 2021 Cinderella wants to be but simply isn’t.
Kaitlyn Dever’s Rosaline is deadpan with a hint of desperation, complemented very well by Sean Teale’s Dario, who is rough and awkward, yet charmingly electric in his chemistry with Dever. Kyle Allen, as Romeo, is reminiscent of James Marsden’s Prince Edward in Enchanted, while Isabela Merced balances the innocence and naivety of her Juliet with the brave ruthlessness of a woman in love. The cast is fantastic overall; their different personalities meshing to strike the perfect amount of Shakespearean crescendo with no-nonsense modern realism. It helps that the script itself is witty with lots of fantastic banter, even if a little predictable.
Twisting classic fairytale tropes, Rosaline references a lot of well-known Disney stories: Rosaline’s development, journey to acceptance and dynamic with her father follow a similar plot to Mulan; the budding romance between Dario and Rosaline is also very Anna and Kristoff from Frozen – which makes a lot of sense considering Jennifer Lee edited Rosaline. A highlight of the film is its use of hackneyed quotes and tropes to portray the irrationality of falling in love, incorporating parallelism and callbacks through the script.
Rosaline features three different time periods; the story is true to its source material in terms of when it takes place, but Rosaline represents a very modern version of feminism, while the soundtrack circles through the 80s to 2000s romcoms. This hybrid chimes with the exaggerated romantic sequences and the idea of secrets and untold parts of the Romeo and Juliet story, the latter highlighted by the framing, symbolism in closed gates and obstructed views, and the constant hiding in crevices and behind walls. Like the classic tale by Shakespeare, Rosaline doesn’t end happily ever after, but not for any obvious reasons.
Rosaline is released on Disney+ on 14th October 2022.
Watch the trailer for Rosaline here: