Rosaline review – a charmingly fresh perspective on a classic tale

By Lori Meek
Published: October 16, 2022 (Last updated: January 30, 2024)


Rosaline takes a classic story and gives it a fresh perspective. The film has a lot of heart, the dialog is full of wit, and the characters are well-rounded.

This review of the Hulu film Rosaline does not contain spoilers.

Rosaline is a comedic retelling of a classic Shakespearean love story, told from the perspective of Romeo’s ex. Directed by Karen Maine and loosely based on the novel When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle, the film stars Kaitlyn Dever (Unbelievable) in the titular role. 

At the start of the movie Romeo (Kyle Allen) is shown to be a frequent visitor to Rosaline’s balcony. The two lovers have to hide their romance from Rosaline’s dad (played brilliantly by Bradley Whitford) as she is a member of the Capulet family, while he is a Montague. However, the feud between their families is not the only thing causing a rift in their relationship. Rosaline is a bit too independent and ambitious, even for Romeo’s liking. She also can’t express her feelings, when he says “I love you,” she meets him with silence. To make matters worse, Rosaline’s father is desperate to marry the willful girl off, one suitor being Dario (Sean Teale), a young man she continuously rejects yet still asks for his help whenever she needs it. 

When Romeo meets Rosaline’s cousin, Juliet (Isabela Merced), the two fall madly in love. He completely forgets about our titular heroine and so the romantic story Shakespeare made famous begins. Rosaline, however, is not ready to let go of her first love, so she begins a ruthless campaign to sabotage the star-crossed lovers and convince Romeo that she, not Juliet, is his one true love. 

The film does a lot of things right. It’s charming, witty and engaging. While set in “a long time ago” Verona, Rosaline tackles contemporary issues. The main character acts like a “crazy ex” who won’t stop sending letters, despite him ghosting her. She takes an innocent Juliet to a “dive bar” as a way of keeping her away from Romeo. Yet, despite her best efforts, she can’t help growing fond of her younger cousin. Romeo himself isn’t portrayed as much of a catch, and that’s probably on purpose. This film is more focused on exploring the relationship between the two love-rival cousins than on looking at their respective love stories, which become secondary, yet still endearing. Rosaline is set in a time when women didn’t have a voice, so it makes sure to give them one. 

Overall, the cast is fantastic. Christopher McDonald plays the misogynistic Lord Caputa to perfection. Bradley Whitford is excellent in the role of an exasperated father trying to get his daughter to act like other girls. Minnie Driver doesn’t miss a beat as the registered nurse who is a bit frustrated by her job, while Spencer Stevenson brings a fabulous twist to Paris, the guy Juliet was betrothed to against her (or his) will. 

While there’s no shortage of Romeo and Juliet adaptations, this one takes a classic story and gives it a fresh perspective. The film has a lot of heart, the dialog is full of wit, and the characters are well-rounded. Watching Kaitlyn Dever’s character grow from a jilted ex to a compassionate young woman who wants to do the right thing was joyful. Hulu’s Rosaline is a charming tale about love, friendship, and personal growth that’s well worth a stream or two. 

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