I always, absolutely always, feel guilty and ashamed whenever I realize that the film is actually better than the book it’s based on. Granted, it only happened a handful of times, which, I hope, will not become a pattern, but it is still really distressing. It makes me question the sanity of the world even more. Not cool, really not cool.
Based on Where Rainbows End by Cecelia Ahern and directed by Christian Ditter, Love, Rosie is a dramedy about two best friends since childhood – Rosie (Lily Collins) and Alex (Sam Claffin) – whose plans on studying in Boston together crash when Rosie finds herself pregnant soon after the high school graduation party. Instead of telling Alex the truth, she lets him go to Boston alone, promising to join him later but never does. Sam, the father, is not in the picture and Rosie’s initial plan is to give the baby up for adoption, which she fails to do when her motherly instincts kick in. The rest of the film is ups and downs of Rosie’s and Alex’s relationship over the course of 12 years, their break-ups and divorces, failed attempts to declare their feeling to one another, culminating, as you might’ve guessed, in a much expected happily-ever-after.
The beginning of the film feels a little crumpled, what with trying to cram the first 17 years of the young people’s lives into a 5-minute montage that is supposed to tell us everything we need to know about their friendship. Admittedly, you don’t need to read Where Rainbows End to get a grasp of their personalities but this is the only thing that the book did a better job with. The film gets much better as the protagonists grow older and a little bit more mature, although not by much.
What makes Love, Rosie work is that, unlike the majority of rom-coms, it doesn’t step into the territory of make-overs or grand gestures or secret plans to win the other party over. Both Rosie and Alex are very flawed and very human, which I attribute to the chemistry between Collins and Claffin.
Another thing that the book gets nowhere with but the film does beautifully is the imagery. Where Rainbows End is written in the form or letters, emails, notes, and text messages for the most part, having Rosie and Alex describe the events of their lives but offering very few details about their surroundings and other small touches that usually create the general atmosphere of the story. The film received its share of criticism for being way too generous with montages – seven or eight in just one film, jeez! – but I have to admit that when you tell a story that requires time lapses, this technique is inevitable. Also, in this particular case it was done right. Shot in Ireland and Toronto, Love, Rosie is very beautiful visually, and is also accompanied by a very in-style soundtrack that often conveys the feelings of the characters better than any words could.
Love, Rosie is far from being perfect and I wouldn’t call it particularly memorable either, but it’s got a nice vibe going on, and even though its credibility is somewhat questionable, it can hardly be called boring. I had my doubts about 25-year old Lily Collins playing both a 17- and 32-year old, but both she and Claffin managed to pull this trick off. The touch of German director Christian Ditter is apparent as well, making the film step away from the canonically dramatic clichés, often overused in romcoms and dramedies, and sticking to quirkiness instead, from the “OMG, is there a condom stuck I my vagina?” scene to Rosie’s punk BFF Ruby (Jaime Winstone) to the bondage gag. They are bold and unexpected, almost making up for cringe-worthy parts, such as Alex’s queen bee bitch of an ex and a My Best Friend’s Wedding kind of stunt in the end. What is it with waiting until the very last moment to do the right thing? Or try, at least.
I would not recommend dropping everything and running to the theater to catch Love, Rosie before it goes off the big screens but I can’t imagine it failing to brighten up your day, what with the gloom of November days creeping in.