Book Versus Movie: Where Rainbows End vs Love, Rosie

2004 saw the release of Where Rainbows End by Cecilia Ahern, a book told through emails and letters surrounding the friendship between two characters, Rosie Dunne and Alex Stewart, following from their childhood well into their adult lives. The book was very successful and so, a decade later, an adaptation Love, Rosie was released, starring Lily Collins and Sam Claflin. 

The basic premise of both stories is that of two best friends who secretly have a thing for each other, and just never get together because life keeps getting in the way. The book and the movie explore how easy it is for two people to miss each other if they don't make the right choices, if they aren't brave enough to go after what they want. Both our characters make stupid decisions and poor choices, particularly in the book, but they are always part of each other's lives, just never in the right place. 

Rosie and Alex met when they were young children, and immediately became best friends. Initially things are very innocent, but they are inseparable. As time goes on and they grow up, they start to face more teenage problems, such as crushes on people from their school and the fact people do frequently mistake them for a couple. It's quite tender to see their friendship from the very moment it begins, and to follow it blooming over the years. 

In the book, Alex ends up moving to Boston with his family in their teens, leaving Rosie behind in Dublin. In the movie, Alex doesn't move to America until he is accepted into Harvard. In both, Alex and Rosie plan for Rosie to come over to Boston and start their adult lives together. There seems to be somewhat of an unspoken understanding between them that when they're back in the same country they would like to see where things go. Unfortunately, Rosie never gets there because at her school formal, she ends up getting pregnant and the life they planned together immediately disappears as their futures diverge. 

Rosie begins building a life for her and her daughter, Katie, as Alex starts pursing a medical career in America and meets a woman named Sally, who he marries. While in the book, Alex and Sally seem like a reasonably happy couple with a real chance, in the movie Sally is portrayed as some vapid, pretentious bitch. I didn't want Sally to be the bad guy of the story, as that shouldn't have been the focus. It should have been that she wasn't right for Alex, as nice as she seemed, simply because he was in love with someone else. 


The book sees Rosie meet and marry a man named Greg, while in the movie Greg is actually Katie's father and the boy Rosie had a crush on for years at school. In both Greg turns out to be the wrong guy for Rosie, not treating her the way she deserves to be treated and cheating on her. Greg can see Rosie and Alex are very close, and is very jealous of their attachment to each other as well as their history, and goes so far as to spitefully steal a very tender letter Alex sends to Rosie expressing his feelings to her. Since she never sees it, she doesn't respond to his pledge to make her happy if she would only give him a chance, and so he leaves his feelings aside as he believes she has chosen Greg. It's very sad to see someone Rosie trusted and care for want to intentionally stop her from being happy, but it's something a lot of people can relate to.  

I read Where Rainbows End years ago, and I loved it. I never thought it would be made into a  film. A part of me never wanted it to be a film, cause I knew the sweeping love story between Rosie and Alex portrayed in the book wouldn't translate well into a movie. The run time of a movie just wouldn't allow it; in the film they just about managed to show 12 years of a friendship, whereas in the book we cover 45 years. The writers of the movie were never going to be able to portray things as they were in the book, and I made my peace with it when I decided to go see the film last year, mostly. What I couldn't make my peace with was the love story between Rosie and Alex being reduced to the idea that guys and girls can't be 'just friends'. Especially with the tag line for one of the posters I saw which read "it's never too late to fall in love with a mate." That line irked me, as to me it clearly indicated the movie missed the point. The book is about soulmates, about destiny bringing two people together no matter what. 

I will give the screenwriters points for trying. Where Rainbows End was always going to be tough to translate into another medium, because the book is just letters and emails and messages. So I appreciated the effort. Plus the casting of Collins and Claflin was excellent, and the chemistry between them was compelling, so again well done. 

I did genuinely enjoy the film, despite how I've made it sound up until this point. It was funny and romantic. There were moments I was laughing, moments I knew exactly how the characters felt, moments when I was almost refused to tears. In itself, it was a beautiful film, just not like the book. Where Rainbows End made me realise I didn't need to know exactly what my next step was in life, because chances were it wasn't going to work out like that anyway. It made me reassess what I thought about growing up and finding your soulmate, that making mistakes along the way was okay as long as I never gave up on following my heart. Love, Rosie didn't give me the same feeling, sadly. It was a shame Rosie and Alex didn't age more, as it would have given the story a bit more substance to remember just how long had gone by as they circled each other, both too afraid. By missing those messages I think this movie will be remembered as just another chick flick, which is a real shame. 


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