Tag Archives: Karen Maine



by Hope Madden

Sometimes it’s fun to reconsider a Shakespearean story from the perspective of a side character. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern got their own play. Juliet’s nurse got her own book. So why not Romeo’s first love, Rosaline?

Director Karen Maine takes Rebecca Serle’s YA novel When You Were Mine back to Verona for a savvy, fun if slight reimagining of the Bard’s tragic love story. Kaitlyn Dever (who also produces) stars in a comedy that pokes holes in old-fashioned concepts of romance.

Devers is Rosaline, beloved of Romeo (Kyle Allen, your future He-Man, here sporting an eerily Heath Ledger look). He climbs her balcony at night, brings her roses, speaks such poetry – so when he finally tells her he loves her, why does she freeze?

It doesn’t matter. She’ll make it up to him at the masquerade ball, where Montagues and Capulets can dance together without anyone ever knowing. Brilliant! But she’s held up by one of her dad’s stupid suitors, Dario (Sean Teale, of the strong jawline and perfect teeth). By the time she gets to the ball, everyone’s gone. Romeo is long, long gone.

But soon enough she realizes it’s her young cousin Juliet (Isabela Merced) he’s fallen for. So, Rosaline takes Juliet under her wing in an attempt to undermine the new romance, to comedic ends.

The best bits come by way of Rosaline’s nurse, played with droll perfection by Minnie Driver, but the entire supporting cast is rock solid. Bradley Whitford is a charmingly befuddled father, Nico Hiraga gives good reason that Steve the Courier never seems to deliver packages properly, and Spencer Stevenson gets off a couple of chuckles as Paris. Anachronistic dialog fits the fun.

Maine’s film, written for the screen by Scott Neustradter and Michael H. Weber (who together penned The Spectacular Now, 500 Days of Summer, The Fault in Our Stars), is intentional in the way it dismantles damaging tropes of romance. Classic romantic stories pit women against women. And the best-known romance of all time ends with two youngsters making the dumbest decisions ever put to paper.

Rosaline recognizes this and makes light entertainment of it all. Dever is more than strong enough to carry the comedy. Her heroine offers stubbornly wrong-headed reasons for resilience and it’s hard to root against her. There’s nothing profound here, but it’s a breezy bit of fun.

Suddenly Salad

Yes, God, Yes

by Hope Madden

A few years back, Gillian Robespierre and Karen Maine co-wrote Obvious Child, a whip-smart subversion of rom-com tropes that went on to be our nation’s first and still best mainstream abortion comedy.

How did it succeed? It lived in a low key, non-sentimental world and gifted a remarkable comedic talent (Jenny Slate) with an outstanding character.

Fast forward half a dozen years and Maine has moved on to directing the solo writing effort Yes, God, Yes. But she’s clearly learned from the previous experience, crafting an unsentimental but tender coming-of-age film—a teen sex comedy, if you will—from the female perspective.

And again, she relies on a genuine talent to deliver the goods.

Natalia Dyer (Stranger Things) is Alice, a Catholic high school junior who has done absolutely nothing (regardless of one persistent rumor), but still thinks she may be a budding pervert hurtling toward eternal damnation.

It seems a lot of people may harbor that same suspicion of Alice.

Alice, like basically everyone in high school, is in for some awkward times. Dyer is wonderfully expressive, especially in her most quiet moments. Her understated comedic energy belies a gawky sweetness that makes Alice easy to root for.

Maine’s script is equally insightful, funny and tender. The humor rarely gets too crude, although there’s no question of the film’s R rating. Still, the film never loses its relatively innocent sensibility.

Yes, God, Yes is occasionally hampered by broad stroke depictions and the story ends up feeling fairly slight.

What Maine principally points out, though, is not the insidious problem of sexual repression festering inside Catholic education (because that too easy a target). Rather, the filmmaker offers a clear eyed if forgiving picture of human beings, each one struggling to “figure out their own shit.”

Honestly, I can think of no lesson more important for a teen to learn (although that bit of advice about protecting your online passwords is solid, too).

Yes, God, Yes will be available on UK Digital Download from 17th August and can be pre-ordered here