Can men and women really be friends, without love and jealousy getting in the way? Love, Rosie, a benign British rom-com, explores this topic even though other films from One Day, to When Harry Met Sally, have done it better. Viewers who like attractive leads in contrived situations may yield to the few and simple charms of Christian Ditter’s film, adapted by Juliette Towhidi from Cecelia Ahern’s novel, but cynics should steer clear. Neighbors Rosie (Lily Collins) and Alex (Sam Claflin) have been best friends since age 5. He has weird dreams, which amuse her, and real dreams of becoming a doctor (at Harvard, no less). She, on the other hand, wants to run a hotel.
In high school, Alex is asked to the dance by Bethany (Suki Waterhouse), which suits Rosie fine, (it doesn’t really; she’s jealous), because the handsome Greg (Christian Cooke) has invited her to go with him. It proves to be a fateful turning point. Greg loses his virginity to Rosie, and loses his condom inside her. Such is the film’s comedy, which is more maddening than madcap. Suffice it to say, Rosie gets pregnant and scraps her plans to attend college in Boston to be near Alex. While his future looks bright, she keeps mum about her impending mom situation, a victim of poor timing.
Timing is the key to the would-be couple in Love, Rosie. The pair, who are always on the same mental and emotional wavelength, seem to have trouble keeping their relationship status in sync. Alex meets Sally (Tamsin Egerton) in Boston and moves in with her. Later, Rosie reconnects with Greg, who wants to assume his responsibilities as a father. Of course Alex and Rosie love each other, but can’t seem to be available for each other, except as friends. The flirt, they tease, they fight, but there is never any real suspense if they will end up together.
The appeal of the performers certainly compensates for some of the film’s many weak moments. An unfunny gag involves Rosie handcuffed to a bed frame and having to carry it through the streets of London. Likewise, a “misplaced” (and unread) letter—a plot device that harkens back to Thomas Hardy’s 1891 novel Tess of the d’Urbervilles—is painfully employed here.
It is a shame that Love, Rosie is not better because there are some sweet and sentimental moments in the film, such as a heartfelt speech Rosie gives at a wedding. Collins, who is saddled with the burden of carrying the film, (which is no doubt as laborious as carrying the bed frame in those awkward scenes) earns viewers’ sympathy. She is radiant even in her most humiliating moments. Both Claflin and Cooke are blandly handsome, obviously competing for the charming cad roles Hugh Grant played for years. In fact, the most enjoyable performance is courtesy of Jaime Winstone, who plays Ruby, Rosie’s fiery-haired best friend. Winstone steals every scene she’s in, and adds a bit of verve and color to the mostly beige Love, Rosie. One wishes this film had been re-titled, Love, Ruby.
Love, Rosie opens today at the AMC Neshaminy.