Hulu’s “Rosaline” is not the worst re-telling of Romeo and Juliet to exist

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A year of movies can’t wrap up without the dreaded “star crossed lovers” trope movies, or a straight up Romeo and Juliet re-telling. This trope is used relentlessly in the most unrelated ways. Like who thought an action movie with star crossed lovers was a good idea? I’m looking right at the mastermind behind Die in A Gunfight. However Rosaline caught my eye as it was advertised as a comedic and modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet told through the perspective of Juliet Capulet’s cousin, Rosaline Capulet. 

 

The story begins with explaining Rosaline’s relationship with (prepare yourself for this one) Romeo! They have to keep their relationship a secret because of the long standing Montague and Capulet rivalry. This leads to some rifts in their relationship and eventually Romeo falls for Roasline’s much younger cousin, Juliet. Rosaline hatches a plan to make Romeo fall out of love with Juliet, and reignite what they once had. This journey, filled with witty banter, mishaps, and chases by guards leads Rosaline to reflect what she values, and who she actually believes is her soulmate. 

 

I was glad they kept the same melodramatic plot of the original Romeo and Juliet and they didn’t use the complex language it was written in because it was extremely easy to follow. I believe if you watched this movie without familiarity of the original it would still be understandable. My favorite part was the decision to add modern and “Gen- Z” humor to the original plot, but still keeping the medieval time frame. For example, there is a scene where Rosaline is listening to a horrible violinist, and her nurse sends the violinist home to which Rosaline replies “Hey! I was listening to that!” It reminded me of a popularly used scene where parents pull out headphone plugs, or boombox plugs and the kids reply with the same dialogue. 

 

There were some amusing one-liners here and there, which were great to exemplify how pathetic Romeo’s persona is, like when Paris, who is one of Rosaline’s friends, says, “Is this really the guy you risked your life to meet every night?” Another thing I appreciated was Rosaline’s character development, and how she started reflecting on her definition of love and its priority in her life. She also learned how rivalries ruin families and create neglect. Even though she was spewing words to deliver the final inspirational monologue, she realized she actually learned an important lesson throughout this entire journey. 

 

However, even though the movie is amusing, it’s extremely cliché. The way things played out seemed unrealistic and wishful. Like how the only person to come and talk to Romeo at the Masquerade Ball magically ended up being Juliet instead of the hundreds of people present at the ball. But I think with any retelling of Romeo and Juliet, unrealistic romance scenes are a given. 

 

I absolutely loathe the way characters were portrayed. Rosaline is first seen as an independent, brave, and feminist go-getter but when her skills were needed, suddenly she would be afraid and play the damsel in distress. Which of course, creates an opportunity to introduce another male character to whom Rosaline indefinitely finds a liking to. I was pretty disappointed because this was a great opportunity to show how a man isn’t needed, and that Rosaline can solve problems on her own. It felt awkward at times too, like she wanted to be brave, but was afraid of what people would think. But when her strength was most needed, she suddenly became fearless and stood up to superiors even though she was afraid of a horse a few scenes earlier. 

 

Overall, this movie is just mediocre. I didn’t have high expectations and it didn’t even meet those. For everything I liked about it, there was something I equally hated about it. The unrealisticness and awful character protraysions ruined it the most for me. It had a lot of potential, and was filled with a talented cast like Kaitlyn Dever, who did her absolute best with what she had. Same with Isabela Merced, who always plays more passionate and deep characters, did well for the shallow persona that is Juliet Capulet. Another great job was done by the actor playing Romeo, Kyle Allen who did well playing the stereotypical dud of a man in this love story. 

 

Looking through a critical lense, the production and plot fell short. But I wouldn’t be mad watching this on a Friday night to turn my brain off. There were some funny dialogues, interactions, and a happy ending. But, if you’re looking for a masterpiece, this is for sure not it. It’s feel-good, quirky, and definitely not one of the worst re-tellings of the Shakespearean tragedy.