Monday, 10 November 2014

Movie Review: Love, Rosie (2014)

Even though I have been listing all the movies I watch each year for a couple of years now, I have only really started dedicating myself to seeing all the ones I could in the last several months. One of the key events that lead me to doing this was when my therapist recommended a movie for me to watch as part of my therapy. It was a British rom-com called About Time, which I thoroughly enjoyed and got me thinking more about the idea of movie-watching as a form of therapy, something I might revisit at a later date. Anyway, it was a short while later that I decided to go with my current plan of watching all the new releases, as well as revisiting as many of the movies from the last few years that I can, and with that I gained a certain… relationship with romantic comedies. While every other critic has cinematic PTSD, given how bad most rom-coms get, I look at new releases in the genre as a little reminder of something that got me to where I am now as a critic. Doesn’t hurt that today’s movie also comes from the same general geographical location: The Irish rom-com Love, Rosie.

The plot: Rosie and Alex (played by Lily Collins and Sam Claflin respectively) have been best friends since they were little, and Rosie gets the feeling that she might love him. However, through a series of events, they start to drift apart and she wonders if she missed her chance at being with her one true love.

The reason why most critics have such a low opinion of romantic comedies, generally speaking, is because there is not a whole lot of variety within the genre. To quote one fellow critic, Matthew Buck AKA Film Brain of the web series Bad Movie Beatdown, “… there’s only so many ways that you can get two people to come together.” Very few films actually manage to stand out from the rest, and only do so by adding something fresh to the mix: About Time added a minor sci-fi twist to the proceedings and came out with something genuinely touching; Silver Linings Playbook has an entire scene that acts as a big middle finger to one of the biggest problems with most rom-coms, and we end up with what I consider to be one of the best films I’ve seen since doing these lists. Of course, you often get films that wear every cliché on their sleeves, and we end up with the irritating mess that is ‘The Best Of Me’. However, what we get here is none of these. Instead, we are met with something possibly even worse: Normality.

This is about as bog-standard as you can get for a rom-com without directly lifting scenes from Sleepless In Seattle. The entire plot is hinged around a lot of coincidences and bad timing: Every time Rosie finally works up the courage to tell Alex her feelings, something happens that makes her unable to and vice versa. Lather, rinse, repeat. It’s a big ticking clock that counts down to the inevitable moment when the two finally come together, with tension so thin you could cut it by breathing on it. If you’ve seen the trailer for this, you’ve essentially seen the entire movie; no surprises, no fresh ideas, just standard romantic fluff… and that’s not necessarily a bad thing in it of itself. If all we wanted to see was just new films every time, the home video market wouldn’t have ever gotten off the ground. Within the confines of the genre, the innards are serviceable: The two leads have good chemistry together; the plot goes through the motions we’ve seen before, but it doesn’t do anything largely offensive and/or boring; and the dialogue is actually rather cute and funny. There is one part, writing wise, that did make me scratch my head a bit though: There’s a running motif involving pointing to locations on a globe that hints at some sort of metaphysical connection between the two that shows up in only a couple of scenes and then completely forgotten. It feels out of place, but at least they didn’t take it as far as Best of Me in terms of trite romantic destiny bullcrap. We also get the usual rom-com trope of the disposable love interests, with some seriously transparent jerks on display here.

Probably the biggest talking point that I can see with this movie is the music, which is… interesting, to say the least. This has got some of the bizarrely fitting music I’ve seen this year outside of Bad Neighbors: While the traditional score hits all the notes it needs to, the soundtrack has some seriously weird additions. How weird? Well, when Rosie gives birth to her daughter, the song ‘Push It’ by Salt-N-Pepa is playing. I’d make a joke about that, but the fact is that this is pretty damn close to a reference joke that I’d make in one of my video reviews. Most of the music is like that; it has a heavy favoritism for hip-hop (which suits me just fine) as well as Lily Allen, with one of her songs being used in a very cathartic break-up scene that almost feels like self-parody with how well the song fits the scene. Kudos to Ralph Wengenmayr (And thank god this isn’t a video, ‘cause there’s no way in hell that I could pronounce that) on that front. Aside from the music, something else that stood out to me was the cinematography. This has quite a few ‘home-video’ moments in term of camera work, with needless shaky-cam in fairly basic scenes and, I swear to Rodriguez, the most awkward zoom-in I have ever seen in an officially released movie that isn’t found footage. Seriously, it looks that bad.

All in all, this is okay for the movie it is. If you need a new date movie to check out because you’ve watched all the others, this will work as a new title to get into but you won’t get anything all that new either. I am officially getting annoyed with my own list at this point, because this is yet another movie that falls just short of the cinematic roadblock that is ‘Edge of Tomorrow’. I swear, I don’t intend for this to keep happening; it just does. Not as good as EoT, but better than This Is Where I Leave You, as at least I didn’t go into this with any expectations that could leave me disappointed.

But, as always, I would love to hear what you thought of it. Comment with your own thoughts on the film, or you can just tell me how wrong I am about this movie and how much I suck with as much vitriol as you can muster. Either way, feel free.

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