In the city of Verona, two families have a prolonged and ancient feud. The Montagues and the Capulets co-exist under the stern eye of the Prince, but the hatred between the families threatens all, in particular the children. The young men of both families are hot-blooded and ready to fight at any provocation, despite the Prince's edict against such fights. But when young Romeo, a Montague, first sets eyes on the virginal Capulet daughter Juliet, no enmity between families can prevent his falling in love with her, and her with him. From this risk-laden romance comes both joy and tragedy for all.Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
Damian Lewis is playing Juliet's father, Capulet in this film version. Claire Danes played the title role of Juliet in the previous film adaptation. Both Lewis and Danes star in Showtime's Homeland. 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. And, so the Prince has called a tournament, to keep the battle from the city streets. Now, rival Capulets and Montagues, they try their strength to gain the royal ring.
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Passionate, enjoyable film but with many shortcomings
I am in two minds about this film: On the one hand I can honestly say that I enjoyed it and that it swept me away in the timeless love story. On the other hand there are several things that really bothered me and that I believe would disqualify it from being classified a "good" film.
Firstly, the bad:
1) The movie doesn't follow Shakespeare's original text. Sure enough, the most famous lines are all there, but the movie frequently deviates from Shakespeare's text. The simplification of some text insults the intelligence of the audience and does seem a little arrogant on the parts of the screenwriters. It also doesn't help that much of the changes has the feel of modern speech being rewritten in an "old-english-sounding" tongue which clearly stands out from the classic words of the bard. Not even the ending escapes some liberal changes. 2)Hailee Steinfeld is really a bad casting decision for Juliet. She is simply so much younger than Romeo that their on-screen chemistry looks a bit creepy. Her portrayal of Juliet lacks depth and she simply does not possess the beauty to be a Juliet - especially if you pair her with Douglas Booth as Romeo. (Another reviewer complained that Romeo is more beautiful than Juliet in this film and I have to agree that this is true)
Now for the good: 1) Bringing fierceness and intense passion to the role, I thought Douglas Booth was a really good Romeo. 2) Paul Giamatti is excellent as Friar Laurence. He brings some comic relief, lightness and heart to the film. 3) The story is fast-paced, passionate and intense. Enough of Shakespeare's most-loved soliloquies and dialogue appear to retain the timeless beauty of his words. The words still bring layer upon layer of meaning to the story and brings so much depth and emotion to the story of the star-crossed lovers that one can't help but wander at just how Shakespeare was able to get so much emotion into so few lines.
I give this film a score of 7 as I quite enjoyed it despite it's flaws. Don't watch this movie if you have to do a school project on Romeo and Juliet, though!
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