Greetings again from the darkness. More Romantic-Drama than Romantic-Comedy, the story spans 12 years – a necessary change of structure from the 45 year saga of Cecilia Ahern’s novel and source material “Where Rainbows End”. It’s a familiar theme of boy-girl friendship muddled by quasi-romantic interludes of frustration, confusion, missed signals, and misplaced pride.
Rosie (Lily Collins) and Alex (Sam Clafin) have been friends since they were 5 years old, and their bond means they discuss everything from Alex’s weird dreams to leaving England together. Well, everything except what they really think of each other. On Rosie’s 18th birthday, a poorly executed, drunken spin atop a barstool, leads to the proverbial fork in the romantic road … and off to the dance go Rosie and Alex with other partners. One cringe-inducing condom mishap later and Alex is headed off to school in the U.S., while Rosie stays behind to tend to other responsibilities.
In the mode of One Day, or Four Weddings and A Funeral, we track the separate lives of Rosie and Alex. Though connected mostly through texts, the next dozen years bring more than enough opportunity for these two to right a wrong, but predictably bad timing is always their worst enemy. The adapted screenplay from Juliette Towhidi (Calendar Girls) and the direction of Christian Ditter allow us to really understand Rosie and care for her, while the supermodel dalliances of Alex keep him at arm’s length.
The film’s best scenes and most interesting sequences are those centered on Rosie. Lily Collins (Phil’s daughter) really steps up her game here and shows some promise for things to come in her career. Most enjoyable are her scenes with the more streetwise Ruby (played by Jaime Winston, daughter of the very cool Ray). The film’s weakest moments involve the attempts at slapstick humor. The two worst: a scene involving handcuffs and a headboard and an elementary school; and another scene with the group awkwardly scurrying through an airport. Both seem out of place with the almost pensive nature of so many other moments in the film.
In an attempt to lighten the mood and ensure the viewers are on track, numerous songs are utilized and act almost as a narrator for the dramatic turns. Most of these are a bit overbearing rather than serving as a complement to the story. Despite the shortcomings, the message of friendship and dreams is one worth delivering … even if the presentation may be a bit cheesy except for the most hopeless of romantics amongst us.