Love, Rosie. Directed by Christian Ditter. Starring Lily Collins and Sam Claflin. Rating: 6 (out of 10)
Fairy-tale locales, gorgeous characters and charmed circumstances: Love, Rosie is the perfect tonic for all the heavy viewing you've been doing over the holidays, so long as you're not expecting much.
Alex (Sam Claflin, of Hunger Games fame) and Rosie (Lily Collins) have been friends forever and ever. They've spent years avoiding what is patently, maddeningly obvious to everyone else: that are meant to be more than buddies. The film opens with a 30-year-old Rosie about to give a speech that she'll regret forever. Flashbacks to her drunken 18th birthday - and the kiss that started it all - set the scene of miscommunication and missed opportunities.
Alex and Rosie make a pact to head to the U.S., to Boston, to attend med school and a hotel management program, respectively. A bad decision on grad night ruins everything for Rosie, who somehow keeps a very big secret (impossible in this age of technology) from her very hurt best friend.
The film is a lesson on safe sex if ever there was one.
It seems that whenever one of them is free and single, the other is spoken for. Alex gets involved with a series of blond mistakes (Tamsin Egerton and Bradley Cooper's current sweetheart Suki Waterhouse), while Rosie's attempt to make a real family results in a relationship with Greg (Christian Cooke), a man who is all abs, no substance. It takes some continent-hopping and a few failed marriages to get them in sync.
The film's soundtrack is too literally tied to the narrative (Salt N Peppa's "Push It" plays during a childbirth scene; Lily Allen's "F#*k You" accompanies a breakup tantrum). And occasionally the film forgets itself and falls into a Bridget Jones brand of farce: an SM scene which results in Rosie dragging a bedframe through town is starkly out of place.
Director Christian Ditter (French For Beginners) fancies backlit kissing scenes and shots of a bucolic England, which is actually County Wicklow, Ireland. It's all very pretty.
So what if some of the cars are of the wrong vintage and Rosie's friend (Jaime Winstone) sports the same haircut for a decade? The target audience of young adults and women-of-a-certain-age-who-are-satisfied-just-staring-at-Sam-Claflin's-pillowy-lips, won't care.
Thank goodness for Collins, who by now is tired of the Audrey Hepburn comparison, I'm sure. She's beguiling even when the originality of the script - adapted from Cecelia Ahern's Where Rainbows End - is not. She and Claflin share a workable chemistry that beefs up the story. It is what it is: a predictable rom-com with lovely locales and winningly sweet characters; the perfect choice pre-Valentine's Day.