Rosaline (2022) does to Romeo and Juliet what Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead (1990) did to Hamlet — takes the minor characters and tells the story through their eyes. And like it’s predecessor, Rosaline does it with modernized language against the backdrop of a surprisingly detailed historical setting.
The film focuses on a character that is only mentioned in passing in Romeo and Juliet, that of Rosaline Capulet whom Romeo first fancies himself in love with before spying Rosaline’s (younger and richer) cousin, Juliet. In the play, Rosaline is committed to staying chaste and eschewing Romeo’s romantic overtures, so he turns his attention to the much more receptive Juliet and, well, things get complicated. You might be forgiven for not even realizing Rosaline was a character in the play to begin with, since many adaptations omit her entirely for the sake of expediency and not making Romeo look like more of a stupid young man than he already does. The film was inspired by the novel When You Were Mine, by Rebecca Steele, which is based around the Rosaline+Romeo “love story” but is set in a modern setting.
In this film, Rosaline (played by Kaitlyn Dever) is the lover that Romeo (Kyle Allen) jilts for Juliet (Isabella Merced), due to no real fault of Rosaline herself. The fates conspire to keep her from attending the masquerade ball where they were supposed to rendezvous, but already their love has somewhat soured as Romeo impulsively professes his love and Rosaline balks. The reason that Rosaline is late to the ball is because her father (played by Bradley Whitford) has set her up on a date with a handsome and eligible bachelor, Dario (Sean Teale), whom Rosaline is resolutely unimpressed with despite all of his obvious qualities. She has eyes only for Romeo and, once she realizes that she’s been cast aside by the inconstant Romeo, decides if she can’t win him back, she’ll do everything she can to break up Juliet and Romeo. Hijinks ensue.
I’ve seen a lot of reviews liken the dialog in Rosaline to Dickinson (2019-21), and I think the comparison is pretty apt. Rather than just use “updated” modern language, the main character Rosaline Capulet sounds exactly like you’d expect a 2020s young woman would. I know this will irritate the everloving hell out of a certain subset of historical film fans, and I will admit I had moments where I rolled my eyes when the dialog got a little too realistic for 2022, but since I didn’t expect much from this film to begin with, it really didn’t bother me all that much. Plus, the costumes were excellent, which made up for a lot of the cringey modernisms exhibited by the main character.
The costume designer is listed on IMDB as Mitchell Travers, who recently designed the eye-bleedingly spot-on biopic, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2021). Honestly, not a lot of press has specifically mentioned the costumes, which is a shame because they’re really very good. Travers’ writes on his Instagram:
“Know the rules so you can break them” is advice I give to my students all the time, no lie.
If you’re looking for a nice way to spend 90 minutes of your life without having to invest too much emotional energy in a film, you could do a whole lot worse than Rosaline. It’s pretty, uncomplicated, and has nice eye candy, so I can see it becoming a staple in costumers’ lists of films to watch while sewing.
Have you seen Rosaline (2022)? Tell us about it in the comments!
It was my impression that Rosaline just wasn’t into Romeo. But I guess it’s a matter of interpretation. Seeing how R+J ended its a pity Rosaline didn’t succeed in breaking them up.
That was always my interpretation as well.
Okay, I just watched the trailer and it looks freakin’ hilarious. Hmm…maybe I can get a free trial of Hulu. :)
I expected nothing, so when I watched it, I was delighted! It was cute and fun and the costumes didn’t make me want to pull my hair out. I think this is the perfect formula of how to use modern dialogue and sensibilities in a period set film. I love being pleasantly surprised.
My go-to Romeo and Juliet via minor character is “Prince of Cats,” starring Tybalt with Rosaline as a supporting character. I recommend it, though as a comic book taking place in 1980s Brooklyn, it is not remotely a frock flick.
I’m curious about this movie and how it compares to “Prince of Cats”‘ Rosaline.
There’s supposed to be an upcoming adaptation of Prince of Cats, to be written by Selwyn Seyfu Hinds and directed by Spike Lee.
LaKeith Stanfield, whom I really like, was attached to play Tybalt but that seems up in the air now.
I’m so glad you decided to review this! I really enjoyed it (overlooked the Leading Lady Hairpin Shortage). I appreciated that the costumes showed layers, instead of just a princess dress. There was outerwear (the gamora?-Renaissance Italian isn’t my linguistic strong point). There were hats (some serious, some just very funny). There were shifts!
oh this does look SUPER fun! Thanks for bringing it to our attention!
I freaking LOVED IT!! Absolutely adorable and so much fun. The conceit was clear from the start that this is a modern and extremely self-aware take on the story and the Italian Renaissance in general, with dang good costumes and beautiful scenery. The music was delightful too! Definitely going into my sewing background rotation along with “Mr. Malcolm’s List.”
The costumes were good, but the story infuriated me. I don’t know why it’s so hard for people to look at the play, where Rosaline is said to have made a vow to stay chaste and rejected Romeo outright, and decide that isn’t an interesting path to take. For me, the modern mannerisms and logic was just too distracting from the visuals for me to enjoy it. The one time I actually laughed was the post credit scene.
I’m waiting for the DVD bc I’m not working. I’m staying home to take care of declining 94 year old mother.
Yes, this has killed any interest I might have had in seeing the film. Rosaline could make a really interesting character, but this ain’t Rosaline.
The hairstyles aren’t as epic as The Borgias!
webtoons has a comic from Roselands point of view. it’s Go Away Romeo! Romeo and Juliet are teenage drips. Romeo more so.
You had me at Minnie Driver.
I just watched it last night and while I found th estory so-so (admittedly, I love the original play), I had my mouth open at the costumes, and started collecting pictures for future costuming references. Okay, there were some instances my eyebrow went up (there is some cloak/poncho-y stuff on Paris for example, but the girls stuff… pretty and mostly accurate… loved the hair and I might have pointed to the screen with a loud exclamation of “look, she even has good shoes” at a sceen when Rosaline is dangling her legs and for a second we can see the pointy toe of a proper renaissance shoe.