Movie Review: Romeo and Juliet (2013)

romeojulietposterRomeo & Juliet…Again


Finally! Someone finally adapted Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet for the big screen.

Just kidding. This has been done to death. In fact, Romeo & Juliet has been made into a feature film more than 50 times since the invention of the ‘talkie’. That being said, if someone wants to make a stand out Romeo & Juliet film, they need to do something different. They need to find a way to adapt it for the times and make it new.

In 1996, Baz Luhrmann pulled this off by putting the traditional dialog over a kick ass soundtrack and casting Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio.

In 2013, Carlo Carlei tried to do this by dumbing down the language.

Ok, so I am sure there are a ton of high school students who really appreciate the Cliff Notes version of Romeo and Juliet. I know I would have appreciated in high school. But by changing the language, Carlei managed to suck all the romance, mysticism and suspense out of the movie. Carlei managed to make a movie about two teenagers falling in love, and then offing themselves, bland. [more…]
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The choices of leads were good in theory, but didn’t work in reality. Olivia Hussey (Juliet), who was Oscar nominated for her role in True Grit, falls flat as a teenage girl filled with lovelorn despair. Leonard Whiting (Romeo) was probably cast because he looks like Robert Patterson and the producers were hoping to cash in on a loyal base of teenage fans. Together, the two lack chemistry and make us wonder what all the fuss is about. They don’t seem like star crossed lovers. They seem like two teenagers wrapped up in puppy lover. I half expected them to start passing notes during study hall.

The writing is surprisingly bland, coming from Julian Fellowes, who writes for Downtown Abby. It’s almost as though Fellowes heard they were writing yet another adaptation of Romeo & Juliet and just gave up.

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Was the film absolutely terrible? No, not really. There have been much worse adaptations of Romeo & Juliet (see Tromeo & Juliet for a reference). However, directors who want to put this out there need to keep in mind that this has been done to death. Just dumbing down the language isn’t enough. Tossing in a pretty boy with his shirt off isn’t enough. Instead, they need to learn to approach this classic film in a new way. They can pull it off through the soundtrack or through the chemistry of the actors. However, just having two pretty young people read lines to each other does no justice to the legendary scribe’s tragic play.

This version of Romeo & Juliet feels shallow and poorly thought out. In addition, the score in the background, done by Abel Korzeniowski was a bit of an annoying distraction. All in all, this is a mediocre adaptation of Romeo & Juliet that feels like it could be a made for TV version. In the end, it’s probably best to wait until this one comes out on video.

Here is the official trailer below.