Twenty-something Richard travels to Thailand and finds himself in possession of a strange map. Rumours state that it leads to a solitary beach paradise, a tropical bliss - excited and intrigued, he sets out to find it.
The classic story of Romeo and Juliet, set in a modern-day city of Verona Beach. The Montagues and Capulets are two feuding families, whose children meet and fall in love. They have to hide their love from the world because they know that their parents will not allow them to be together. There are obstacles on the way, like Juliet's cousin, Tybalt, and Romeo's friend Mercutio, and many fights. But although it is set in modern times, it is still the same timeless story of the "star crossed lovers".
Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Kate Winslet and Christina Ricci were considered for Juliet. Gellar's commitment to All My Children (1970) interfered, and Hewitt was considered too youthful-looking. Natalie Portman was also considered and even flew to director Baz Luhrmann's hometown, Sydney, to film scenes with Leonardo DiCaprio, when 20th Century Fox couldn't quite visualize the director's off-the-wall concept. Luhrmann says, "Although she's a fantastic young actor, she's a tiny little girl and Leonardo's six feet tall. He's 21, but can look 18. She made him look all of 21, and it just became obscene." Portman's version is this: "They said it looked like Leonardo was molesting me when we kissed. It was really disappointing, but I wouldn't have wanted to be in the movie and have it look wrong. If I was in the film, I would have wanted it to be perfect." See more »
When Romeo runs into the church whilst being chased by the police his shirt is open and waves about as he runs. However when he lies down and dies next to Juliet his shirt is closed. See more »
Two households, both alike in dignity. In Fair Verona where we lay our scene. From ancient grudge break to new mutiny. Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean. From forth the fatal loins of these two foes, a pair of star-crossed lovers take their life.
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Everyone is familiar with William Shakespeare's boy-meets-girl love story, and it has already been interpreted into films, plays, TV adaptations and songs. But Baz Luhrmann gives this world-known love story a modern-day twist, setting it in Verona Beach, and piling on the religious imagery. The result is quite spectacular.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes play the star-crossed lovers, and, whilst the latter is sadly a little bland, never truly convincing us in her portrayal of Juliet's loss of innocence or torment of feelings towards the foe, DiCaprio completely redeems her performance. He is a revelation. His Romeo is a wonderful mix of sad eloquence, a loving heart and a troubled soul, and all these elements come together beautifully in a performance hotter than a pepper sprout, with more layers than the proverbial onion. He is the very embodiment of sexy in his role. There is an extremely alluring way in which his character is filmed, which only enhances Romeo as a lover. This is epitomized in the opening shot of him, where the Leo is illuminated illustriously against the sunlight, and Radiohead's languid, sexy tune "Talk Show Host" plays.
The film itself has "sexy" written all over it, and, with the Gen X teenagers as his target audience, I don't think Luhrmann would have things any other way. But, unlike with that atrocity Moulin Rouge!, with Romeo + Juliet, the over-stylization is appropriate, making the movie more accessible to teens, for example, through gun warfare rather than swordplay, and the canny symbolisation of Queen Mab as a drug. But perhaps the most ingenious stylistic technique here is the slap-in-face Shakespearean references, which range from a ball called the Merchant of Venice, to 'Such stuff as dreams are made on' from The Tempest, making the film an absolute goldmine for trivia fans.
Style aside, there is more than enough substance. Romeo is presented exactly as the play does at first, the mawkish, gawky, lovesick teenager, then, the fickle boy, and finally, the devoted and caring lover, and much of this loyalty to the play is due to the screenplay from Luhrmann and Craig Pearce, which maintains the original memorable dialogue and descriptions, but also dares to stray from the sidewalk in some of the plot turns, and the film completely benefits from it. The set designs are intricate and beautiful, and suit every frame of the film perfectly, and the icing on the cake is the music. Craig Armstrong's score for the swimming pool scene is as stunning as it is original, and the use of non-original music, from Kym Mazelle to The Cardigans, give the film the added edge of cool, making Romeo + Juliet one of the boldest, sassiest and most unforgettable adaptations to date, and English Lit. GCSE has been made far more digestible for us kids across England. It's what Shakespeare would have wanted. A-.
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