11 years since Ahern’s first novel P.S, I Love You was adapted into a film, and the same mistakes have been made, apart from the convincing performance from Collins and Claflin
Love, Rosie; an adaptation of Cecelia Ahern’s bestselling novel (Ireland and UK) is an easy watch, exploring the familiar romantic comedy issue of boy/girl friendship- are they more complicated than they seem? Christopher Ditter’s version of ‘Where Rainbows End’ is enjoyable, attempting the epistolary style through select use of narration; however it loses the novels original charm and doesn’t bring anything new to the genre; it is merely a repeat of One Day (2011).
The film focuses on the characters of Rosie Dunne (Lily Collins) and Alex Stewart (Sam Claflin), inseparable best friends from an early age. Always planning a future together, life’s path gets bumpy when Rosie falls pregnant. Whilst Alex goes off to pursue his dreams in Boston, Rosie becomes a full time mum. With time, the contrast between their lives become visible; constant jealously and the withholding of secrets keeps them apart; keeping in rare contact through emails, letters, and cards.
The film opening is cliché; by beginning in the future. Protagonist Rosie is seen in a hideous dress, followed by her narration ‘take a deep breath, start at the beginning. Tell them when you first met’, stepping back in time, to when the two were just children. The close relationship they had as they grew up is reflected, giving insights into their shared secrets, but in contrast to the novels exploration of this age, this is brief, missing out on their innocence and bad habits. A return to the future, then a flashback to 12 years earlier; Beyoncé’s Crazy In Love is blared out and the consumption of too many tequila slammers can be seen – it’s the arrival of Rosie’s 18 birthday. At this moment, the two leads kiss; the complication begins.
One of the films best feature is its play on humour expressed through the shocking incident of a missing condom, its take on pregnancy, Rosie’s eccentric and brutally honest best friend Ruby, perfectly played by Jaime Winstone (Kidulthood) and through the process of trying to juggle being both mum and a single woman.
Ditter captures the mood through establishing shots, taking advantage of the Irish setting; including the windswept beach, representing innocence and love for family. And particularly shots with sunshine beaming from behind, setting a romantic atmosphere, giving the audience another glimmer of hope that the two are soulmates – a continuous frustration, as everyone knows they’re destined to be together but them.
The two leads have great chemistry, and it’s scenes together that add depth, authenticity and emotion. Collins is able to act the different ages of Rosie with grace, pulling off the independent women. This embracement of woman power, plus her natural beauty are evident in her portrayal as Snow White in Mirror Mirror (2012).
Although in his teenage years Alex (Claflin) is young and charming, when introduced to the newly grown version, he is recognised as the heart throb, Finnick Odair from the Hunger Games, and it’s hard not to sit there gawping at his immaculate cheek bones, brown locks and gorgeous smile.
Claflin’s character does become less attractive though, due to errors Alex makes. For example, his choice of girlfriends; university sweetheart Sally, adapted to be played over the top and crazy, (by crazy, I mean crockery throwing crazy) by Tamsin Egerton (St Trinian’s), and Bethany Williams (Suki Alice Waterhouse), a promiscuous character that keeps popping up at the most unwanted times, with the most unusual accent (accents being a downfall for many of the actors). It is these two characters portrayals that although create humour, take away the realness that the novel brings.
While we enjoy a screen full of beauty, it isn’t hard to notice that the two main roles don’t show any signs of ageing (unless you count change in hair style); whereas daughter Katie goes from tiny tot to moody teenager, resulting in a reduced sense of reality. Fortunately due to the way Juliette Towhidi adapts the novel in her screenplay, the characters don’t need to age older than 33 compared to the much wider time span of the book. Although more practical, this means the audience doesn’t connect as emotionally with the characters, not fully experiencing the grittier events like death, single parenthood, financial problems and employment. Nonetheless there is no doubt that the audience will still be rooting for their happy ending.
The film as a rom-com is a good one, albeit using stereotypical and predictable themes of the genre. Although it didn’t quite capture the magic Ahern did with her novel, one could easily be pleased by it whilst curled up with a glass of wine and a box of chocolates.