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Romeo and Juliet
PG-13....118 min.....Drama, Romance
February 4, 2014

romeo and juliet
© 2014 Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

DIRECTOR: .Carlo Carlei
WRITER: .Julian Fellowes
romeo and juliet
Hailee Steinfeld, Douglas Booth, Ed Westwick,
Damian Lewis, Paul Giamatti, Stellan Skarsgård,
Lesley Manville, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Natascha McElhone
romeo and juliet
romeo and juliet
Grade:. ★★☆☆☆

SYNOPSIS: William Shakespeare’s epic and searing love story has been revitalized for a whole new generation by Academy Award®-winning screenwriter Julian Fellowes (Original Screenplay, Gosford Park, 2001) and acclaimed director Carlo Carlei. Douglas Booth and Academy Award® Nominee Hailee Steinfeld (Supporting Actress, True Grit, 2010) lead an extraordinary ensemble cast as Romeo and Juliet, the star-crossed youths who fall for each other in spite of their feuding families. Filled with lush, enchanting imagery amid its original setting in Verona, Italy, this legendary tale of romance remains timeless and transcendent…and as powerful as ever.

Famous for her gruff parenting-style, Gilmore Girls‘ Mrs. Kim (Emily Kuroda) is said to have viewed Shakespeare‘s Romeo and Juliet, “one of the world’s great love stories,” as “a cautionary tale of what happens when children disobey their parents.(#2.9 – “Run Away, Little Boy” (2001)) While most of her rules and Mrs. Kim-isms seemed completely foreign, this one was spot on. No ‘happily ever after’ awaits the title characters of Carlo Carlei‘s Romeo and Juliet, the teenage offspring of rival families Capulet and Montague, whose whirlwind and torrid love affair succeeds only in bringing about their own (and others’) demise. For, as prophesied by Friar Lawrence, “These violent delights have violent ends[.](R&J, And, as the play’s final lines tell us: “[N]ever was a story of more woe / Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.(R&J, V.iii.309-10)

Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy of errors—both in its original plot and in some of writer Julian Fellowes‘ new additions. The film’s dialogue—a peculiar mix of straight-from-the-text and re-worded Shakespeare—fails to alleviate the anachronistic language barrier. Some changes to the play’s plot—from actually meeting Romeo’s Rosaline, to a drastic alteration of the final tomb scene, and more—feel out of place. The opening scene’s assignation of blue and red as the Capulet and Montague family colors seems like a cheap ploy to subconsciously evoke the infamous gang rivalry of the Bloods and Crips. And while soliloquies provide much-needed exposition on the stage, in film they just look like someone talking to themselves. Awkwardly.

romeo and juliet
Ed Westwick, Damian Lewis & Natascha McElhone | © 2013 Relativity Media

Romeo and Juliet is not, however, entirely lacking in positive attributes. Visually, the film is stunning—from gorgeous costumes, to breathtaking sets and Italian locales—and the choreography of its fight scenes is entertainingly action-packed. The masquerade ball boasts a nice “thunderbolt” moment between Douglas Booth‘s Romeo and Hailee Steinfeld‘s Juliet. And Lesley Manville‘s Nurse is quite the mistress of bawdy humor.

Ultimately, Carlei’s Romeo and Juliet felt superficial—beautiful on the surface but without sufficient emotional depth. Although Booth and Steinfeld play their individual roles well, together they lack the all-consuming chemistry that tearjerking tragedy requires. Purists, beware; neophytes, rent another version when studying for that Shakespeare test.
romeo and juliet

Digital HD
Romeo & Juliet: Cast and Crew
Romeo & Juliet: The Filmmaker’s Vision
Romeo & Juliet: Creating the Look
Romeo & Juliet: Hair and Make-Up
Theatrical Trailer
romeo and juliet

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ROMEO & JULIET Movie Review

Featured Image: © 2013 Relativity Media

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Sarah Katz

Sarah Katz

Born-and-bred New Yorker. Lifelong film & TV lover—from chick flicks, rom-coms, rom-droms, rom-drams, and tweentertainment, to Shakespeare, period pieces, James Bond, fairy tales, and mafia movies.