Love, Rosie … how to begin? Well the first thing to tell you would be that for the majority of the movie I wanted to leave. The film, as the debut English-language feature of German comedy filmmaker Christian Ditter, is marketed as a Rom-com, however it is not one; it is of its own genre – sadistically pessimistic realism with an overcompensating dash of crude wit. But wait! Don’t be put off; this is certainly not a bad feature… in the conventional sense anyway.
The movie opens at Alex’s (Sam Claflin) wedding, where Rosie (Lily Collins) as a substitute best man prepares to declare that this as “the happiest day of [her]life”. From here the viewer is whirlwinded back 12 years into Rosie’s past, to witness the tumultuous relationship of Rosie and Alex from first kiss, through a lifetime of misery and denial, not to mention thousands of pounds worth of plane tickets only to return to this point; the wedding of one, but not both.
That Rosie and Alex were destined for each other is a given, but crossing the boundaries between friendship and romance is one so risky that neither dares to broach it for fear of losing the exhilarating hope of romance. When a lifetime together seems finally imminent their competitive teenage relationships end with Rosie impregnated by another guy and losing all prospect in achieving the dreams from her childhood. Crashing reality causes the youngsters lives to divulge all too dramatically, with Alex climbing up the Ivy League ladder, living a life of posh dining and prestigious parties, while Rosie slums it as a single mother, working as a cleaner in the hotel she once intended to own. The two couldn’t be further apart, but their affections lay tragically intact.
Adapted from Celia Aherns award winning novel Where Rainbows End, Love, Rosie was surely expected to be a take on Scherfig’s adaptation of One Day crossed with My Best Friend’s Wedding, and yet the outcome was more like Doremus’s Like Crazy, invaded by the gaudy humour of a teenage sex comedy. The film’s most unique feature is unfortunately its ultimate downfall.
The extremities of emotion to which Ditter attempts to push his audience are so far and in between that the most heartfelt moments fail to bring tears as much as the crudest fail to bring laughter. In fact the viewer is so traumatised by the tumultuous roller coaster that it is hard to do more than shake in unfathomable frustration.
It is a shame that what’s so disappointing about this movie is not the acting, the camerawork, the concept or even to a certain extent the direction. What fails this feature is its inability to recognise the boundaries of human emotion. I mean come on. Some situations are too tragic to be funny. The life of Rosie, if nothing else, will allow you to leave the cinema content in the knowledge that your life could never really get THAT bad.
Love, Rosie (2014), directed by Christian Ditter, is distributed in the UK by Lionsgate, Certificate 15.