Romeo and Juliet (2013)
This would usually be the part of the review where we tell you what the plot of the movie is, but really... This is Romeo and Juliet. You know the plot as well as you know the story of Titanic, and as Shakespeare's most famous play, as well as the instigator of pretty much every tragic romantic tale you can think of, so even if you haven’t read the source material, you’ll still know this love story inside and out.
The adaptation this time around is provided by Julian Fellowes, perhaps best known for his work on Downton Abbey, and here he has managed to make a bungled mess of things. Between the not quite updated language (Fellowes has changed the text to a dimmer form of The Bard's original words) and the functional but lifeless direction by Carlo Carlei, it becomes all too clear that this version is something worse than just plain bad. It's pointless.
Perhaps the performances can help ease the pain? Well, yes and no. The older actors here do save the day to some extent, with Paul Giamatti as Friar Laurence, Damian Lewis as Lord Capulet and Stellan Skarsgard as The Prince Of Verona all taking to their characters with gusto, spouting this old school language like it's what they were born to do.
Unfortunately, Romeo and Juliet lives or dies by its Romeo and Juliet, and it's difficult to find a pulse with these two. Douglas Booth is just about okay as Romeo, even if his features are so distractingly pretty that he'd potentially make a better Juliet than Juliet herself. Which wouldn't have been hard, as Steinfeld is particularly woeful as the object of his desires, reading out her dialogue without any clear indication that she understands what she's saying to the love of her life.
So really, what was the point of this? Without doing something new with the text (like Baz Luhrmann did) or having a tour de force central couple (like Baz Luhrmann did), then why bother? It's not a total disaster, as the supporting cast and some pretty locations make sure it's not a complete dud, but you’d be better served by just going back and watching the Baz Luhrmann version again.
Review by Rory Cashin | 10:24 | Sunday 13th October 2013 | Movie Review
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