The trailers for Rosaline had me laughing long before I ever got the chance to screen the movie. Luckily, they didn’t mislead. This modern—yet not—take on Romeo and Juliet was a lot of fun, not only for someone in their mid-thirties, but likely for a younger generation too. With Hulu and Disney+ bringing Rosaline straight to streaming on October 14, I think quite a few people will be checking it out.
Rosaline is the tragic tale of Romeo and Juliet from the perspective of Juliet’s cousin, Rosaline. It turns out the story was once Rosaline and Romeo, until she missed one chance event where Romeo met Juliet, and the rest is history…or so we thought. This parody of Romeo and Juliet tells the story in a whole new light, and it might not be as tragic as we thought.
This isn’t the first parody of its kind, not even within Shakespeare’s works. Romeo and Juliet has been told time and time again, in different time periods, in iambic pentameter and plain language, so it isn’t a new idea. 1990’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead took place in Hamlet’s universe, featuring two minor characters who can’t deviate from their scripted lives, for instance.
Rosaline, though a period film in appearance, often makes modern references, like Paris (Spencer Stevenson, The Purge) being very clearly Queer, and Nurse Janet being clearly aware of the goings-on and supporting them. There is talk of pizza and a soundtrack that is modern—which is a part of the comedy in itself.
The cast is full of some great names as well, like Christopher McDonald (Happy Gilmore) as Lord Capulet, Bradley Whitford (Get Out, Billy Madison) as Adrien Capulet, Mini Driver (The Witcher: Blood Origin) as Nurse Janet. Our main cast consists of Kaitlyn Dever (Dopesick) as Rosaline, Sean Teale (Voice in Xenoblade Chronicles 3) as Darius, Kyle Allen (West Side Story) as Romeo and Isabela Merced (Spirit Untamed) as Juliet.
“Rosaline tells it all from another’s perspective, giving us insight and creating an entirely new narrative.”
Dever’s comedic timing as our main character is on point, and she brings the majority of the laughter to the screen. I was swooning for Dario immediately, as I’m sure many others will too. Smaller characters like Tibalt, Steve the Courier and Paris still bring laughs, but they are more centred around exaggerated comedy.
Kyle Allan’s Romeo looks like just a young Heath Ledger, unrelated but not unnoticed. Merced brings a sweet innocence to Juliet, even while being corrupted by Rosaline, and my favourite time with Romeo is toward the end of the film when he tries to get to know Juliet a little better. The swapping between formal and informal language is a lot of fun in Rosaline.
The twists written into Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet keep viewers entertained and engaged, and the way Rosaline’s story is intertwined, sometimes directly causing events that we already know of to happen, is unique in its own right. I was worried that they would change the story in ways that wouldn’t work. Instead, Rosaline tells it all from another’s perspective, giving us insight and creating an entirely new narrative.
Though not an original concept, Rosaline brings fun to a well-known story with a great cast and streaming platforms that are sure to see viewers. Had it come to theatres, I don’t think Rosaline would do as well as it could, but from home, this film will do really well.