By Erica Enriquez
Based on the novel by Cecelia Ahern (who also wrote P.S I Love You), Love, Rosie is a British film directed by Christian Ditter, about two best friends, Rosie Dunne (Lily Collins) and Alex Stewart (Sam Claflin), who, despite their mutual attraction for each other, go their separate ways after high school, one going to college in Boston and the other falling pregnant and staying behind in England to raise her daughter as a single mother. The film charts their relationship, their lives and ultimately how they become the people they really want to be.
On the surface, you will be comparing this to another smash hit film for young adults, also based on a book, The Fault in Our Stars. But where The Fault in Our Stars gets a little schmaltzy for some, Love, Rosie (its book version is called Where Rainbows End) gives the audience strong characters.
Collins plays Rosie as a strong, bright young woman, who is not only brave enough to stand up for her convictions but also wise enough to recognise the phoniness in the people around her. She makes her way through life as a single mother with determination and a single-minded goal to remain true to herself and to her daughter, never mind that the exciting life she could have had in Boston was taken from her when she decided to keep the baby.
You genuinely feel for Rosie – she’s the friend you want to have and the character in the film you are backing to succeed. She is inherently a good person, and every mishap, misstep and misadventure will only make you like the character more, because they’ve developed such a strong character and you want to see her push through and win.
Collin’s scene in the doctor’s office after her condom accident is hilarious, but also shows that Rosie can hold herself together well in a crisis – I doubt there’d be a lot of 18-year-olds showing the same kind of maturity in that situation! Lily Collins shines through in this film. You might not have seen much of her, but if all you know of her is that she’s Phil Collins’ daughter, be prepared to see more of her going forward.
Sam Claflin too as the high-achieving best friend Alex Stewart is also pretty good. He may remind some of a young Ethan Hawke (in looks), and while his performance is strong, it’s really a Lily Collins film; it’s not called “Love, Alex”, after all. But the role called for someone to deliver the performance of a young man who denies himself the right to follow his own path, and Claflin does this well enough. In fact, it’s probably the one character in the film all audiences can identify with fully, because not everyone will always feel as strong as Rosie but everyone has felt as cowardly as Alex.
You definitely believe the love between the two main leads. Friends since childhood, Love, Rosie proved that love for your best friend could grow into romantic love and therefore become a bond stronger than any between old friends, wives or husbands. Rosie says, “There was at least someone out there who still saw me as Rosie, and not this strange new person I’d become”. Alex recognises his relationship with Rosie as one that began long before they even knew how they would turn out in life.
Recurring characters like Bethany (Suki Waterhouse) and Greg (Christian Cooke) are used well to continuously test our lead stars. They’re despicable people at the start of the film, and while Greg kind of remains that way, it’s great to see that Bethany becomes a little more than a caricature of a mean girl.
Everyone will relate to the feelings of lost love, first love and even unrequited love, which plays out so nicely in the film. And everybody will know what it feels like to want to belong to somebody, and have someone belong to them. Although Rosie wants the kind of love that would keep her warm at night, she sees that she belongs to her daughter Katie, and that Katie belongs to her.
Rosie’s family is supportive and loving, which makes her journey easier. They’re also quite loveable. In one scene, Rosie spends time with her doorman father at the 5 star hotel he works at, where she tells him her dreams of owning her own hotel one day. This dream is not shot down by her working-class dad, but instead, he tells her of how he once thought her lofty ideas of business ownership were “not for the likes of us”, but supports her anyway and wants her to succeed.
Love, Rosie works because it combines all the things an 18-year-old feels so strongly about, and in fact these are still important to anyone long after they’ve finished high school or university. Exploration, education, love, and making a life for yourself mean so much to anyone, and means even more when you’re as young as Rosie was in the start of the film and just beginning your journey into adulthood, and into whatever adulthood holds for you.
It’s not as edgy as Juno, but Ellen Page and Collins are both cut from the same cloth, a little bit. Both play young women with the rest of their lives ahead of them, and are thrown a curveball that will affect the lives of people they care about. Both films end differently, but there really should be more films like Love, Rosie, depicting young women as more than just romantic comedy co-stars or action heroes. It’s also great to see that in Love, Rosie, the idea of what success looks like is challenged.
Love, Rosie is a lot more mature and meaty than you would think. It’s not a typical teen movie, and it’s not a typical rom-com, but you’ll love it because it revises the idea of true love, your life’s path and what it means to grow up, take control and make your life your own.
Review Score: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Love, Rosie is out in Australian cinemas today.