29 October 2014

Review: LOVE, ROSIE

The poster for Love, Rosie, a romcom starring Lily Collins and Sam Claflin, refers to the film's most excruciating gag, involving a missing condom. That it's based on a novel by Cecelia "P.S. I Love You" Ahearn called Where Rainbows End seems immaterial to the would-be raunch suggested by the poster, but no, the film itself is exactly as saccharine as that sounds.

Taking place over a couple of decades, best friends Rosie and Alex keep missing each other. It starts when a drunken snog at her 18th birthday party leads them both to renew their friendship in the face of overwhelming romantic chemistry. Then she falls pregnant by another classmate while he wins a scholarship in America and as each of them alternately realise they want more from their relationship or become attached to someone else, years and years have gone by. And if you're watching it, it really feels that way too.

There's a board game analogy I like to apply to this sort of romantic comedy, but it's particularly relevant here. You have two characters taking turns to remove the blocks between them, only to wind up piling on top of a tower of contrived obstacles, making it ever taller and more unstable. This is emotional Jenga of the most infantile grade and the arena spans between an expensive looking location shoot in the States and a laughable, equally American version of what appears to be "Dublin, England."

All of the worst crimes of romantic comedies are writ large in the script for this one. The central couple belay their inevitable romance by deliberately and pointlessly withholding information- at two different points, these supposed lifelong friends decide not to share the news of their imminent parenthood with consequences that are only emotional by way of their plinky-plonky musical underscore. There are also utterly binary supporting characters to lead our star-crossed protagonists astray, whether it's Christian Cooke's slappable player, Tamsin Egerton's vapid beauty or Suki Waterhouse's vapid-er glamour model.

Perhaps worst of all, the film is constantly punishing Rosie for any romantic or sexual endeavours that arise from not having devoted herself to Alex from the very start. Whether it's the embarrassment of the aforementioned condom incident (evidently such a jizz-in-the-hair landmark of relationship comedy that it's called back throughout the film at any point where she might seem too full of herself for the film's liking) or a scene that contrives to make her take her daughter to school while handcuffed to a headboard, she can't catch a break.

Lily Collins is coming into her own as a movie star and she's clearly the most appealing performer of the lot here, but this really feels like she's taking her knocks before she gets to the good stuff. She and Sam Claflin have fairly good chemistry together too, even if neither Juliette Towhidi's script nor Christian Ditter's direction rise to meet the charm or energy that they bring to the proceedings. Maybe one day they'll recouple for a film that doesn't leave the viewer hoping that when the other foot falls, it lands on one of them and crushes them.

Love, Rosie is yet another romantic comedy that is neither funny nor particularly romantic. Collins and Claflin are perfectly sympathetic as a couple, on paper, so that should give you an idea of how far below par this turned out. A heaped spoonful of sugar doesn't make it any easier to swallow, particularly with so many contrivances drawing it out to what feels like a punishing length for such a shallow and empty morass. It's not fit to lick Richard Curtis' boots and yet that's something like the taste it leaves in your mouth.

Love, Rosie is now showing at cinemas nationwide.
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I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.

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