Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeares Romeo + Juliet
My only love sprung from my only hate.
Running Time: 120 minutes
US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 12
Country: United States
When William Shakespeare penned Romeo and Juliet as a tragedy, Im not sure this is what he meant. Call me presumptuous, but I reckon its the story thats meant to be tragic, not its execution. Baz Luhrmann, though, obviously had other ideas when he directed and partially-wrote this noisy, jumbled and emotionally-vacant update of big Bills favourite two star crossed lovers.
Leonardo Di Caprio and Claire Danes play the legendary sweethearts of the title, dragged into an MTV-ified answer to modern-day Verona by Luhrmanns crass in-your-face directorial techniques. Just as in the original, theyre from opposite sides of a long-running feud between two of the citys prominent families, the Capulets and the Montagues. But here the two fams take their aggression out on each other via gang warfare and street thuggery, while the famous first meeting of Romy and Jules seems to pay tribute more to the art of the drunken pull than any delusion of the beautiful possibilities of love-at-first-sight. You could say, in fact, that what Luhrmanns translation of the play boils down to is Shakespeare for chavs.
Bizarrely, the screenplay attempts to remain true to much of the original dialogue a bold move, but one which only really succeeds in making the bulk of its cast look even more bewildered. Di Caprio in particular wears a constant whats going on? expression across his face, and you can hardly blame him. Hes taking centre stage in an absolute mess, and his characters endless droning on about love this and love that means that not only is he in well over his head, but hes playing a whining bore to boot.
This is clearly a gimmick movie, but the gimmick swiftly grows tiresome. By the end of the whole thing, its become only slightly less irritating than Luhrmanns atrocious and disgustingly-successful chart effort Sunscreen and I cant come up with any summary more damning than that.
It's Got: A tendency to turn its nose up at arranged weddings. I cant think why: I was at a wedding once that wasnt arranged, and it was absolute chaos.
It Needs: A chief of police whos actually willing to make some bloody arrests all he seems to do is shout a lot and occasionally banish someone. Seriously, who ever heard in this day and age of someone being banished for murder? I ask you.
DVD Extras Audio commentary, director interviews, cinematographers gallery, music clips, TV spots, posters and a trailer. Its all pretty cumbersome to navigate, and none of it is particularly interesting. Version reviewed: Romeo And Juliet DVD Extras Rating: 5/10
Alternatives:Romeo and Juliet (1968 version)
Good movie, good movie, wherefore art thou good movie?