(a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

ROSALINE is similar to CATHERINE CALLED BIRDY in that it is set several hundred years in the past, but uses modern language and modern sensibilities. But while CATHERINE CALLED BIRDY is a new story, ROSALINE is based on a throwaway bit from ROMEO AND JULIET--she was Romeo's "true love" before he saw Juliet. So Rosaline is a character from Shakespeare but unlike Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern (who appeared in Stoppard's play), she does not actually appear in the original play itself. (In this she resembles Rebecca in the Daphne du Maurier eponymous novel.)

The problem with ROSALINE is that the language is disconcertingly anachronistic at times. Characters talk about going on a "date" (the word was first used in that sense in 1896), and having a "boyfriend". Also, Rosaline asks for a match (matches were not invented until 1826) and "wants a career" (also a modern phrase). (For that matter, Rosaline's nurse (played by Minnie Driver) makes a joke about having seven years of nursing school, and later about being a medical professional. But of course "nurse" did not have that meaning--or even exist as a profession--for centuries.) I suppose at least some of this is supposed to be funny, but it can also jerk one out of the milieu as much as if Rosaline had whipped out a cigarette.

When avoiding anachronisms, screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber do add a crisp wit for their audience. The music is also modern, and it copies a Woody Allen joke about diagetic music.

Overall, this is amusing enough--not Shakespeare, but what is other than Shakespeare himself--and of interest to those of us who like the "side roads" of Shakespearean drama. If you like ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD, or the modern re-stagings of RICHARD III or ROMEO & JULIET, you would probably like this. (Yes, I realize that the modern re-stagings are also full of anachronisms. But they are integral to the film, not surprise stumbling blocks.)

Released on Hulu streaming 14 October 2022. Rating: low +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10

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					Mark R. Leeper
					Copyright 2023 Mark R. Leeper