October 21, 2014 Leave a comment
Rosie Dunne (Lily Collins) and Alex Stewart (Sam Claflin) have been best friends since they were kids. As they grow up, however, they each begin to develop deeper feelings for one another; but unsure whether their desires are reciprocal they decide to refrain from telling the other how they truly feel. In his hurry to lose his virginity, and after a drunken kiss at a school party which Rosie doesn’t remember, Alex sleeps with Bethany (Suki Waterhouse) — one of the most popular girls in class — instead. Hurt, Rosie retaliates by sleeping with Greg (Christian Cooke), only to wind up pregnant with his baby. As Alex goes off to Harvard to study medicine Rosie gives birth back in Britain, and over the next ten years they each go through their own romantic troubles as they continue to miss each other’s advances.
A romantic comedy adapted from the novel by Irish author Cecelia Ahern, Love, Rosie follows in the footsteps of fellow adaptation One Day in charting the ever-shifting relationship between one couple over the course of several decades. In this vein, and bar a childhood prologue, the roles are played by the same actors throughout, from their Sixth Form, MSN-messaging school days right through to their late twenties/early thirties. It requires a considerable suspension of disbelief to accept Claflin as a teen (he looks absolutely ridiculous in school uniform) or Collins as a woman approaching middle-age (by film’s end she looks barely ten years older than her supposed daughter), but for the most part they just about convince.
This is largely down to the strength of their performances, and even in its shakiest moments their chemistry is enough to hold the film together. In isolation, it’s Collins who really stands out, as it’s her individual story that ultimately proves the most engaging of the two. Her character has the most going on, as she struggles to raise a child, mourn a parent and work a part-time job in a hotel as a cleaner. (How nice it is to see characters in a comedy working relatively normal jobs.) She clearly has the most at stake, too, and while many of her lighter scenes are commandeered by new best friend Ruby (Jaime Winston) she absolutely sells the more difficult moments pertaining to decisions to have the baby, re-engage with her child’s father and fly out to Boston to be best (wo)man at Alex’s wedding.
Sadly, as is so often the case with rom-coms of this kind, the will they/won’t they plotting wears a little thin after a time. Reticence, missed opportunities and regrets may be part and parcel of life, but they’re not exactly conducive to good drama. The more the screenplay contrives to keep them apart the less easy it is to sympathise with the characters in question, for the longer it is strung out the more they seem to be the architects of their own unhappiness. It’s unfortunate at first, then repetitive, and finally becomes so frustrating that you simply will for them to compromise and the story to conclude. Instead of relating to the characters you begin to query them. How is Rosie, a single-mother with a part-time job, able to afford to live alone and take so many flights out to the States?
It may be messy, and there will undoubtedly be those who take immediately against its cheesiness, but for anyone able to forgive Christian Ditter’s film its flaws Love, Rosie is charming enough to compensate. It’s a Brit-com in both the best and worst sense of the term: occasionally embarrassing but for the most part really rather endearing.