Let’s hope that name doesn’t influence destiny in reality, because if I had to pick a name from fiction that most seemed to doom its owner to a certain sort of existence, Rosie would be pretty high on the list. From The Rosie Project’s force of chaos who drags the nerdy protagonist out of his routine existence, to the narrator’s eponymous seducer from Cider with Rosie, even to the cheerful hobbit Rosie Cotton from The Lord Of The Rings, the idea (not the reality) of who sustains Sam throughout his adventures, Rosies are uncomplicatedly there for shrugging off a gruelling existence.
And Love, Rosie certainly doesn’t break any of those rules. The film charts Rosie Dunne’s difficult, difficult choice between two absolute blots upon the male creation, both of whom need her to save them from themselves: Greg, who absents himself for 10 years after getting her pregnant, and Alex, whose smugly patronising smile perfectly sums him up.
The film, aside from being totally ignorant about the dynamics of platonic boy-girl friendships in its early stages, has no absolutely idea where it’s set. “This place is a dead-end,” Alex whinges, attending as he does a school that has equipped him to gain a medical scholarship at Harvard. The utter lack of coherence is probably best summed up by Rosie’s family home: she lives in a dream of sparklingly beautiful interiors and cut-glass RP accents, later revealed, as the camera gradually pans out of her window, to be above a Tandoori shop in a row of tiny terraces. What?
Conveniently Catholic parents prevent the obvious termination of her unplanned pregnancy. Still, their Victorian morals (to the extent of having her give birth in her bedroom) don’t remotely seep over into Rosie’s adult life, meaning infidelity here, there and everywhere. And then lots of angrily smashing things. Whatever the situation, the appropriate response is to wreck a table of glassware or rip up someone’s desk with a screwdriver.
Despite the set’s consistently lovely, colourful design and a highly enjoyable performance from Lily Collins as Rosie, it lunges from the slightly illogical to the unintentionally hilarious in terms of plot and script. “I’ll always stand guard over your dreams…” Rosie announces tearfully as she gives the ‘best man’ speech for Alex and his new vapid model wife, “…No matter how weird and twisted they get.” By ‘weird and twisted,’ she is actually referring to the mostly well-executed and sweet motif of how Alex always shares his dreams with her, and she always understands them. They’re not remotely twisted, just slightly odd like everyone’s dreams — but in the context, it sounds deeply strange.
The soundtrack is used to charming and appropriate effect — funny and over-the-top at times, suitably evocative and moving at others — as is the repeated imagery of she and Alex on the brink of kissing, reflecting well how the film tracks their attempts to re-capture something that’s constantly slipping away from them. That is until the contrived fairytale ending puts a stop to what could have been a perfectly decent film about living with the choices we make.
Perhaps I’m just missing a crucial bit of self-referentiality: just like Rosie and Alex themselves, the film doesn’t have much of a clue about where it’s going, why it’s going there or what’s trying to be. But I’m not entirely convinced.