Romeo & Juliet (2013) Poster

(II) (2013)

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Woe is me.
jdesando12 October 2013
"For never was a story of more woe Than this of Juliet and her Romeo." Count Paris (Tom Wisdom)

The "woe" in this umpteenth adaptation of Romeo and Juliet over the last 400 years is that the titular lass, as played by Hailee Steinfeld, is weakly acted with immaturity, poor elocution, and disappointing physical presence. Add to that another woe: Douglas Booth's Romeo is prettier than Steinfeld with only slightly better articulation.

So, the outdoor production I saw this summer outflanked director Carlo Carlei's uneven take. However, for sets and cinematography, his production is beautiful, having been lovingly filmed in Verona. The ancient estates are astonishingly effective as horses race past old bricked walls and lovely ladies act beneath frescoes and columns that boast of nobility.

Yet the real reason to see this new production is Paul Giamatti's Friar Laurence, a benign manipulator undone by forces beyond his control. Giamatti's range from sweet confessor and cupid to perplexed operative is masterful. Look for his Oscar nomination for best supporting actor.

Lesley Manville as the Nurse is second only to Giamatti, a loving servant with a twinkle and a deep understanding of the lethal games. In fact, most of the supporting players such as Damian Lewis's Lord Capulet are welcome pros next to the amateurish leads.

The film, while featuring the besieged friar, also does a successful job highlighting the egregiously intense hormonal urges of young men: Tybalt (Ed Westwick) and Mercutio (Christian Cooke) have the feral ferocity of doomed warriors. Even the more placid Count Paris is waiting to let his inner soldier take over in the revenge category.

Writer Julian Fellowes bastardizes some of Shakespeare's glorious dialogue (why would anyone try to improve on the best?) and even adds rogue lines, albeit in the Elizabethan mode, such as "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." Now that is not Shakespeare!

But the basic story is still the essence of intelligent soap opera, and for its endurance, even with weak leads, I am grateful. And that cinematography makes me long to return to fair Verona.
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A very misunderstood film.
filipemanuelneto5 October 2016
From time to time, a film director decides to adapt Shakespeare's plays. In all fairness, it's great stuff and deserves to be taken to the screen. However, when this happens, the people (particularly those whose mother tongue is English) don't like it and have great difficulty in understanding that, when a book is adapted to cinema, it has to be adapted or adjusted. Its a necessary job, and does not spare any book or author. It can be hard to accept, especially for the purists, who see Shakespeare as a kind of untouchable "sacred cow", but the truth is that cinema can be based on literature but its not literature. I say this because I realized that this film was the target of massive criticism for the way the book was adapted. The writers were so incompetent? They cut something important to the understanding of the story? They have profoundly altered it? No. But they sought to adapt the text a little, for dramatic purposes. The essential was there, untouched, and this does not shock me. This is cinema, not theater, and people have to understand that the public goes to the cinema to see a movie, not a recorded play. Do you want the original text, ipsis litteris? Read the book or go see the play. Cinema is concerned in keeping the story, not the text. Almost all movies are so, this is no different. Now let's talk about the movie.

The movie is interesting, keeps the essence of the original story, but changes the dialogues and interpretation, abandoning the artificial tone of Shakespearean theater and taking a more natural posture. The idea is good, its a breath of fresh air, but I think the posture adopted is too "XX century" and something is missing in the way the characters act that remind us the fifteenth century. One of the most reprehensible things is the amount of kisses and touches. This does not fit the historical period depicted, much more puritanical than ours. The actors did a decent job, engaged and committed to the story itself. Douglas Booth was by far the best Romeo I've seen in the movies, much more credible than Leo was in "Romeo + Juliet". Hailee Steinfeld was not bad either, but her acting has seemed a little forced in some scenes. Everything else is absolutely impeccable: the bright, colorful picture is magnificent, in harmonious combination with the great scenery and locations chosen for filming, and that depict faithfully what have been Verona during this time. The costumes also fit into the historical period and are exquisite. The soundtrack, discrete but present, fulfills her role with great skill.

Far from being a bad movie, this movie will never be understood by the public who are not able to see the difference between literature, theater and cinema. Despite some minor flaws, the film is well done and does not deserve at all, in my opinion, the severe criticism it has received.
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A dummy's reply
jandesimpson25 August 2014
Of all the clever-clever barbs fired at the 2013 "Romeo and Juliet", "Shakespeare for Dummies" has probably given the film's detractors the most satisfaction. But, as anyone who has read my user reviews of the 1940 "Pride and Prejudice" and the 1999 "Mansfield Park" will quickly realise, I am no purist as far as literary adaptations for cinema are concerned. I suppose therefore I must be something of a dummy, but a dummy who would like to take the floor to confess to finding this recent version of literature's most famous youth-love-death cocktail rather wonderful. Not that it hasn't been well done before. I haven't seen Castellani's but Zefirelli's later version was a thoroughly worthy attempt, certainly of a standard to raise a question as to whether further interpretations were needed. I experienced serious unease fuelled by all those truly awful reviews before even the opening credits. Give it half an hour perhaps. Not that it started particularly well. A horseback contest between a Montague and Capulet reminded that we might well be entering "Ben Hur" country with all the boredom of that gargantuan epic. I suppose it was the entry of Douglas Booth's Romeo chipping away at a stone figure of Rosaline, his current love, in an artist's workshop that raised more than a glimmer of interest. Was ever a portrayer of the role more handsome! And this coming from a pretty 'straight' viewer! Just imagine his effect on all those Juliets in the audience! I have to admit to finding him the more engaging partner, hardly matched by a no more than pretty Juliet, who rather gabbles her lines and is, well, little more than average school dramatic society material. By now I am aware that I am hardly writing a review of something of a terrific film, so what makes it so outstanding? It can be summed up in the one word - passion. This version concentrates on the lovers to the exclusion of much else such as the groundings humour of Mercutio here played absolutely seriously as is Lesley Manville's pragmatically intelligent Nurse. For once,in Paul Giametti's outstanding portrayal, we can really feel the tragedy of Friar Lawrence's ghastly misguided solution to saving the young lovers which serves to drive the action forward to those tragic deaths presented with such moving intensity. It all culminates in a truly great moment when the young Benvolio clasps the dead lovers hands together. Not Shakespeare but nevertheless a masterstroke. As a bonus we are treated to beautifully shot locations. At one point where the lovers depart from one another on a riverbank the image is ravishing. The main quarrel of its detractors seems to be copious liberties with the playwright's text. There is no question but this is an adaptation in the same way as Kurosawa's "Throne of Blood" and "Ran" both of which are reverenced by cineastes yet contain not a line of Shakespeare. Why all the furious reactions to this version? Remembering the derision than was heaped against Powell and Pressburger's marvellous "Gone to Earth" when it first appeared in the early 1950's but has now achieved deserved recognition, I put it that Carlo's Carlei's "Romeo and Juliet" is possibly a film before its time. Sadly I shall not be around in a few decade's time to say, "I told you so."
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I sentence this movie to exile
Darkside-Reviewer25 October 2019
There has been a lot of movie interpretations over the years of this classic story of love and loss some are classics like the 1968 film and some are simple made for TV movies and mini series that while not great still manage to entertain and do the story some justice but this movie interpretation of the famous play by Shakespeare has absolutely no redeeming qualitys.

The leading roles of Romeo & Juliet are played by (Douglas Booth) and (Hailee Steinfeld) who are both talented young actors and have had many roles before and after this movie but here they just fail to bring any real passion to their roles as the star crossed lovers with no real chemistry between them and blank expressions and mono tone voices throughout the movie they are just so easily forgettable in their roles that it's hard to feel anything for the characters in the movies sad climax.

The costumes and makeup are much too clean and tidy making the swordplay and duelling scenes look laughably posh when Mercutio is stabbed by Tybalts blade he looks more concerned about the blood stains on his white shirt.

The only actor in this poor excuse for a movie that is perfectly cast is (Paul Giamatti) as Friar Laurence his performance is the best in the movie and he fits the character perfectly it's just a shame it's this adaptation of Romeo & Juliet he's involved in.

I don't recommend watching this movie especially if your a fan of this classic story there are far better movie adaptations of Romeo & Juliet out there than this I personally recommend the classic 1968 film staring Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting.
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Passionate, enjoyable film but with many shortcomings
stanley_biggs2 March 2014
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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mike-salisbury4724 February 2014
Warning: Spoilers
If you love the play (as I do), my guess is that you'll not be disposed to like this version. The screenwriter, Julian Fellowes, takes some pretty significant liberties with Shakespeare's original text, which consistently left me wincing when I anticipated a line, only to hear a paraphrased version. I hate to sound all snooty and say you shouldn't mess with Shakespeare (I'm sure it's not perfect) but I would think a screenwriter would set a pretty high standard for changing what the Bard wrote, and based on the number of changed lines, I get the feeling that Fellowes set the bar pretty low. It's the language of the play that makes it so wonderful to me. The general story itself never interested me until I read the play and similarly themed stories (such as West Side Story) have never captured my interest. I don't buy that the language is too hard for modern audiences: even the most opaque puns and outdated language can be translated to audiences via acting and directing. And almost everyone has probably read (or was supposed to have read) the play in high school, so it's not as if this is going to be the first exposure to the play for most people.

There were also bizarre changes or additions that didn't make any sense to me. A tournament to start the film? What did that add to the story besides having a scene with mounted knights and lances? Mercutio a Montague rather than the Prince's family? OK, not sure what that accomplished. Benvolio and Rosaline at Capulet's ball? Maybe that would have been more interesting if Romeo hadn't already moved on, but it just seemed strange. The Tybalt-Juliet scene after the ball?

One thing that puzzled me was that Mercutio never felt like an important character. His major Queen Mab speech was cut short and it seemed that there was more effort to establish Romeo and Benvolio's friendship than Romeo and Mercutio's. I feel like the director made this effort to make Benvolio a larger character, which I think made for some powerful scenes at the end of the movie, but when this is at the expense of Mercutio's character, who is one of the few really interesting/dynamic characters in the play, I felt that was a mistake.

One odd criticism that I've seen in a number of reviews is that Douglas Booth was too pretty, or prettier than Juliet, and this was somehow a problem or a distraction. This is hardly a new dynamic as I would say that both Leonardo DiCaprio and Leonard Whiting were 'prettier' than their respective Juliets (who were both lovely!) which I don't think was a problem in either of those films. My take is this has a lot to do with how R&J movies are marketed at teenage girls as their prime audience and that a 'beautiful' Romeo is what you do to sell seats at the theatre.

In the end, I don't think that Haillee Steinfeld was a strong enough actress for Juliet. This is probably the hardest role in the play, covering a huge emotional range and demonstrating significant changes and maturation in the character over the course of the play. She seems to be reading lines and not adding any emotion or inflection most of the time. I just never felt that she was quite there. Booth was fine as Romeo, not great, but not bad.

And just once, I'd love to see a movie where they can't touch or kiss during the balcony scene (which is what the text of the play makes clear). Or at least take out the line 'What satisfaction canst though have tonight?' which makes no sense if they're in physical contact.

To say some positive things: the setting and cinematography was beautiful, as many have said Lord Capulet was well played as was the Nurse I think. I thought that Benvolio was well played although the actor was distractingly way younger looking than Romeo, Mercutio, Tybalt etc. I like that they kept the scene in where Romeo kills Paris as that was not in the Zeffirelli or Lurhmann versions.

Overall, I just don't think this version offered anything new or interesting. The Luhrmann version did this and thus I think was worthwhile. I don't see any reason why this would replace the Zeffirelli version as the cannon version of the movie.
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A botched job
himbletony6 February 2020
This is not a good film let alone a not so bad version of Romeo and Juliet. The whole enterprise is pretty, but irredeemably flat. Douglas Booth looks like a renaissance beauty, while Hailee Steinfeld just looks like the girl next door, but even allowing for this disparity, they both speak their lines as if they were reading round in an English class : no indication that they felt the passion or even understood the lines (although one supposes that they may well have done). There is therefore, zero chemistry between the two hapless actors, which is the death knell for any story of passion.

Much is made of Fellowes' script (most of it bad). The thing is, it's an uneasy mixture that works neither as version of Shakespeare, nor as its own version. Fellowes might have received more respect had he gone full out to re-conceive the dialogue in quasi-medieval terms, but he obviously lacked the nerve. The directorial choices didn't help either : in the Zefferelli version, Romeo's eyes are following Rosalind when there is a parting of the dancers and Juliet is revealed in her full height and beauty in a stunning red dress, wearing no mask. In this version, we see a few hints of a masked Juliet, with no visual impact. Therefore, the poetic line "it seems that she hangs from the cheek of night like a rich jewel in an Ethiop's ear" is stupid, because he can't even see her properly in order to make such a judgement, particularly as Steinfeld is not in the same league as the jewel-like Hussey. Hussey and Whiting both outdo these two leads in the clarity and urgency of their delivery. The famous misunderstood word "wherefore" in the balcony scene, which means "WHY are you Romeo?" which then leads to the questioning of how we name things (What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet") is actually delivered by Seinfeld as if Juliet IS saying "Where are you Romeo?" and the following musing not a logical extension of that incorrect idea.

The extra details add nothing to the story (the jousting for example) and just muddy things unnecessarily. The fight scenes lack the messy confusion that such a brawl would be (Zefferelli got that right again) leading to a less immediate and more artificial effect. The fact that a lot of this was shot in Verona means absolutely nothing if you are not engaged. I weep every time I watch the Zefferelli version. This one just bored me. A botched job.
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Pretty, but mostly pretty bad
Bologna King9 November 2013
This is the most recent in a series of Italian versions of Romeo and Juliet which starts with the 1955 film directed by Renato Castellani and the 1968 film directed by Franco Zeffirelli. They are all very pretty and this one is the prettiest, with extremely pretty scenery, a pretty Juliet and an even prettier Romeo.

That's about the best that can be said for it. Fellowes, the screenplay writer, has actually written some new scenes that are not bad examples of blank verse in the Elizabethan style, but they do not have the genius of Shakespeare, and the new scenes don't add much to the story. Replacing Shakespeare's words with his own, which he does far too often, invariably results in poorer and less interesting lines.

Unfortunately, the leads aren't persuading anyone that they are in love, and our attention is drawn instead to some good performances by the supporting cast, especially Damian Lewis's Capulet, which I think is the best performance by anyone as Capulet on screen ever.

So, generally, apart from Lewis, you are much better off watching Zeffirelli's film.
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The CW does Romeo and Juliet
Robert_duder2 February 2014
Warning: Spoilers
It is always hard to watch another version of a film that has been done and done again. However, I love Shakespeare and Romeo and Juliet is probably my favourite of his (very close to Hamlet.) I was very excited to see this latest interpretation even though I have seen SO many different renditions. There is some bad about the film but also some very good. This particular version is rewritten and paraphrased into what I call "loose" Shakespeare. Its still poetic and melodramatic but the words are easier to understand for those not so prone to Shakespeare. This version specifically aims itself to the teen demographic. As I said in the review title, it was the sort of thing that the CW network would try to do (and even features Gossip Girl alumni Ed Westwick but more on that in a moment.) I would NEVER fault anyone for trying to bring literary classics to the modern teens of the world so if this does it for them then that's fine by me. However, it will be a little lower than what Shakespeare fans anticipate I am certain. Shakespeare is already incredibly melodramatic and Romeo and Juliet is about the most sappy you can get. So much pining and whining and violence and misdirected love. The paraphrased and re-written script makes that worse. Still some the key scenes are mostly in tact (my favourite monologue when he first sees Juliet was decently done and almost kept the same as the original.) This version is still quite enjoyable.

I, as many others did, fell in love with Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit. She was brilliant!! I also happen to think she was very good in Ender's Game. I thought she would be an amazing Juliet and she was!! She is young and innocent and pure looking and delivered her lines very well. Her intensity was well done and she was perfect for the lead for the demographic the film is aimed at. She wasn't jaw dropping but how many other Juliets have we seen and how much could she have done with it. She did well for what the role provided. Douglas Booth is our Romeo and teen girls will absolutely swoon for him. He is a pretty, pretty young man (Ebert said Romeo should not be prettier than Juliet.) I actually thought he did a solid job in the role. His chemistry with Steinfeld was good and they both did the brooding pining teenage love thing very well. Was it sappy? You bet. But they both delivered the poetic lines well. Neither were stunning but both were very entertaining in their roles. The supporting cast ranged from okay to quite good. The previously mentioned Ed Westwick is campy and over-acts in his role as Tybalt. He looks and talks very Shakespearean but man does he overplay it. I thought Kodi Smit-McPhee (another very, very talented young actor) was understated but REALLY impressive as the young Benvolio. Christian Cooke also didn't have a lot of scenes but did well as the cocky Mercutio. Lesley Manville, Damian Lewis, Stellan Skarsgård and Paul Giamatti added an excellent, much needed and very well done level of sophistication and experience to the cast. The four of them were particularly good and clearly have Shakespeare backgrounds to show off.

I would have liked to have seen a much better director than the mostly unknown Carlo Carlei do this film. That being said, some of the setting and stunning scenery is just beautiful. How brilliant of them to do some of the filming IN Verona Italy!! I think that's awesome! Sometimes you honestly have to look beyond the surface of a film. Should Shakespeare be re-written? No. Never. Were they trying to give a new and very different generation the opportunity to experience Romeo and Juliet. Yes and I am definitely okay with that. As an English major, writer and lover of Shakespeare and theatre I was still entertained. I was not floored by any means but I still enjoyed it. I'm not saying you should always give film makers free passes to butcher something but this isn't butchered...its just different and for a very specific demographic. Lighten up everyone and enjoy it for what it is. 7/10 I read some very harsh professional reviews of this film including a scathing one from the late, great Roger Ebert. Certainly
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Brilliant Cinematography, I don't believe they "changed" any of the lines, instead the writer adds further explanation of the details.
ShearahElrel16 February 2014
I'm quite shocked that this adaptation is receiving bad reviews. They come out with a new version of Romeo and Juliet every 10 years it seems and although I still love Romeo+Juliet from the 90s I love this one for different reasons.

Romeo and Juliet is such a beautiful tragic love story, I applaud the filmmakers for their choices. I loved the setting for this film, such beautiful and grand locations. Romeo and Juliet is set in Verona and this film captures it beautifully.

The jousting in the opening scene was genius for that was probably taking place at the time. It was more historical accurate and it really showed and felt right for Shakespeare's classic. I loved how Romeo was a sculptor, when he is talking about Rosaline and sculpting her, that was perfect for the time period. Romeo as an artist just makes sense. At first, I had reservations that Bonvelo, (who let's be honest is the real reason why Romeo discovers Juliet's "dead") is played by such a young actor but he made me a believer, when Romeo gives him that final goodbye, it was just heartbreaking. Men were also made at a younger age during that time so we can historically accept that. Also, when Bonvelo gives Romeo the news, Romeo has this moment where he looks up at that beautifully painted Fresco and he has that very Hamletesque moment the "To be or not to be," inner struggle that the filmmakers probably wanted the audience to reference.

No film production of this play will please everyone, alas I feel in love with it!It was those little details that were added that made me enjoy this adaptation. I cried again for the star crossed lovers, this film has magic for those who give it a chance!
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much underrated
noelcox12 July 2014
This may not be the perfect version of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet - if such a thing is possible - but it is much better than the rating of 5.7 suggests. The production values alone merit a higher rating. However, moving to the writing, acting and directing, this is also a much better film than some have suggested. It is certainly a more conventional version than the 1996 DiCaprio and Danes film, which I found at time too weird in its modernization. This newer attempt at the famous Shakespearean tragedy is closer to the 1968 Zeffirelli film, though it may not quite reach that effort in its impact. Personally, despite one or two concerns, the film is actually very successful in its rendering of the tale, atmospheric and poignant, and the acting, especially by the supporting cast, very good.
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'But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?'
gradyharp15 March 2014
The love story of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is so powerful that it still holds sway on every stage devoted to the bard's works, as well as school and general productions and various cinematic interpretations. Whether or not the viewer responds to this version as adapted for the screen by Julian Fellowes is a matter of mental malleability - to see and feel the tragedy in one of the most distilled and credible versions to date or to push away because it is not a word for word reproduction of the original. Film allows the expansion and condensation of a story and that is what Fellowes has provided – paring down some of the play and reshaping some of the characters to make the love story bloom as spontaneously and rapidly as possible and then shortly after the climax, make the resolution of the love song far more poignant than ever. Carlo Carlei makes Fellowes adaptation work in the splendid way he opens up the story and draws powerful performances form a very well selected group of actors.

The story is so well known that it need not be summarized: Romeo and Juliet secretly wed despite the sworn contempt their families hold for each another. It is not long, however, before a chain of fateful events changes the lives of both families forever. California actress Hailee Steinfeld ('True Grit') may not be the most beautiful Juliet on record but her emerging from child to woman is magnetic. Douglas Booth is strikingly handsome and genuine as a perfect Romeo. Christian Cooke is a striking Mercutio and Ed Westwick is the evil proud Tybalt whose murder of Mercutio and whose death at Romeo's hands sets the tension for the story. Juliet is a Capulet (parents played by Damien Lewis and Natascha McElhone) and Romeo is a Montague (parents played by Thomas Arana and Laura Morante). Stellan Skarsgård is the decisive Prince of Verona, Kodi Smit-McPhee is Benvolio, but it is the expanded characterizations of the Nurse superbly enacted by Lesley Manville and Friar Laurence brilliantly portrayed with immense sensitivity by Paul Giamatti that makes this version work so extremely well.

The setting is breathtakingly splendid – all set in Italy - and the musical score by Abel Korseniowski and cinematography by David Tattersall polish this gem to a fare-thee-well. For this viewer this is one of the finest interpretations of Romeo & Juliet ever made. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, March 14
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A traditional film adaptation of a famous play that can be easily embraced by a new generation.
khanbaliq210 March 2014
If Hailee Steinfeld is in a movie then I will definitely see that movie. The young actress made an impressive debut in True Grit (2010), but then took a 3 year break from acting. In 2013 she had a role in Ender's Game, a science fiction action thriller that's definitely worth seeing. She also had a role in Romeo And Juliet, a straightforward film adaptation of William Shakespeare's romantic tragedy that works thanks to the actors and the screenplay. Julian Fellowes wrote a screenplay that makes the film interesting for a new generation of viewers. Changing some of the play's dialogue may be unacceptable for some people, but what we get here is a manageable story with the poetic dialogue intact. It works well in the film. Carlo Carlei can be praised for his direction because the film doesn't lose pace or interest. Carlei makes the dramatic scenes work, especially at the end when Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet have to make difficult decisions because of unfortunate circumstances. The cast deliver the dialogue well. Steinfeld was 17 when the film was released, but she projects maturity and makes Juliet a tragic figure. Douglas Booth allegedly beat out 300 other actors for the part of Romeo. He's 4 years older than Steinfeld, and the romance between the two isn't as good as it should be, but they are an appealing young pair. It's Paul Giamatti, playing Friar Laurence, who's most comfortable with the poetic dialogue however. I like that Romeo And Juliet was filmed in Italy, including in Verona, where Shakespeare's tragedy is set. Franco Zeffirelli's terrific 1968 film was a big hit with a similar approach to the material. Carlei's Romeo And Juliet wasn't a repeat of that phenomenon but it's still a solid film that can easily appeal even to teenagers. I recommend it.
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Let's face it, Shakespeare would have written a different script for a film
beatroute-star27 January 2014
Everyone seems to get their panties in a twist over the fact that Fellowees changed the dialogue. While I admit that this seems a tad egotistical, it's not altogether illogical. The real problem isn't even that he left things out (indeed, unlike many adaptions, Rosalind and Paris were kept, as well as the death of Paris). But rendering and adding things is not seen as appropriate.

But let's face it; Elizabethan Theatre is an entirely different writing medium to modern film adaption. There are a number of things that had to happen in those days. Notice they say 'I die' every time someone dies? They talk about their feelings an exceptional amount? And there are other near invisible things that would be entirely different. Shakespeare may have been a genius, but if you pulled up an unknown script of a similar level of genius from this era and made a word for word film, I doubt you could expect a great audience reaction. I've seen kids literally sleep through Polanski's Macbeth and even shrug at Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet (except when they were noting the lead's similarities to Zefron), yet be highly engaged by the stage performance of the play.

Visually, this film is utterly gorgeous. Whoever chose the locations deserves a french kiss from the world. From the first shots of Juliet running in her orange dress, the audience is stunned by the use of colour and scenery. The costumes were great (I don't think anyone was complaining when we saw a gorgeous Douglas Booth is an open white shirt chiseling away). The hair was to die for and the acting wasn't so bad as everyone makes out. Fact is, everyone's used to it being acted VERY Shakespearean. Which isn't how films work. If you're asking for that style of acting, you ought to see the play and burn the movie. The actors here took a more naturalistic approach, which seems flat, but that's probably because it's naturalistic and this is Elizabethan theatre in a period adaption for a 21st century audience. Are we seeing where some things are bound to get tangled?

That all said, there are two things that I can't justify:

  • Far too much kissing. Like all the time. It felt like too much sometimes. A lot. This is probably where people see the lack of chemistry, because the kisses seem to come out of nowhere, are accompanied with virtually no crescendo musical masterpieces or great camera shots, and are usually cock-blocked by the nurse.

  • Unless your students are well versed in the play, this shouldn't be the go to for schools studying Romeo and Juliet. Let's face it; a lot of kids don't exactly read the whole play, might write things in their essays that only happened in the movie if they watch it. The thing that everyone complains about (the adding of lines) is only truly detrimental here. The other versions (Baz's and Zeffirelli's) only omitted things, rather than adding things, and is a lot safer for educational purposes.

If you're not studying it; if you haven't studied it to the point at which added lines would make you feel ill; if you aren't an absurd prat about purist R&J (keep Shakespeare Shakespearean? I don't even...), then this is a good movie. And Booth is delectable. Always.
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Was begging for them to kill themselves already
ashi478229 January 2014
This movie was very well made. The cinematography, acting, music, script, costume design, and set design were all well done. However, this movie lacked heart and soul. It lacked suspense or intensity, which was what Romeo and Juliet supposed to be about. It cut much of the swordfighting action and the music, while good, was underwhelming. That is actually thebest word to describe this whole movie. Underwhelming. Every scene I felt could have been done better if they had just performed more dramatically or if the music was more intense, or if the composition was more close-up.

Romeo and Juliet is a masterwork of irony and this movie took it out completely. It was so rushed in a way that felt distant and just trying to push through it. It never settled at moments and it pains me to watch it. The only good scene was at the end when they killed themselves because of Paul Giamatti's performance.

God, and I thought the 1998 version was bad, this one is even worse. Watch the 1968 version for the good Romeo and Juliet.
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He's way out of her league
phd_travel25 January 2014
This is a tale of a woefully miscast movie. As Juliet, Hailee's isn't right for the part. She just didn't act like she was passionately in love - not even puppy love. Her delivery of dialog wasn't clear. She looks younger than her age - more tween than teen and her looks aren't special enough. Douglas Booth as Romeo is more beautiful than Hailee. He looks older than he is so it seemed a bit predatory. He manages his lines okay. There isn't much chemistry between the two. Too bad Lily Collins dropped out - she would have been much better.

As far as supporting cast is concerned, Damian Lewis as Juliet's father acts well but too Royal Shakespeare Company for the rest of the cast - like he dropped in from the theater. Natascha McElhone looks more like Romeo than Juliet so don't know why she was playing Juliet's mother. Mercutio is okay but Tybalt is overacted by Ed Westwick who played it like a cross between Chuck Bass and a bull in a ring, flared nostrils and all. Paul Giamatti should have moderated his accent a bit to sound vaguely European.

The tacky and overblown musical score is all wrong especially compared to the memorable and famous 68 movie score. It actually interferes with the dialog in some parts. Would have been better to have just used some classical music or had nothing at all in many scenes.

The only good thing is the on location filming in Italy which is picture perfect.

What a waste.
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A plague on both my ears
idesofnow12 April 2014
What the f**k just happened.

I had hopes. I really did. It's been almost two decades since an R&J adaptation, and I think it makes perfect sense to make a new version each generation or so, a fresh take, new faces to reinvent the timeless genius, etc, etc. Hamlet has been remade four times in the past twenty-five years and each version is unique, original and valid. That's one of the truly remarkable things about Shakespeare; the timelessness of his dialogue, characters and concepts stand the test of almost any lens.

And here I stress, *almost* any lens.

When I heard about this remake, I thought, great, we're ready. After Zefferelli's colorful, innocent and authentic gem, and Luhrmann's modern, raucous carnivale, even the idea of a newly traditional retelling was appealing, complete with genuine Veronese backdrops, longswords and tights.

And therein lies the true tragedy of Carlei's Romeo and Juliet: it could have been so much more than this. It should have been so much more. It should have been at least watchable. At the very least.

So many reviews have said things like "I don't mean to be snooty, but" Let's get one thing straight. There is nothing snooty about insisting on Shakespearean text. It's his play. He wrote it. The reason you're making a movie out of it again is because it is so amazing that no one has been able to surpass it and so you should never ever ever ever ever under pain of death and torture even consider bastardizing that perfect language.

Some people think that "Shakespeare would have written a different script for film."

No. He wouldn't have. He wouldn't have changed a thing. You. Dumb. Person.

If you are going to screw with the language, at least be smart about it, do an honest and complete rewrite, throw in some smug references and you'll end up with something like My Own Private Idaho or Chimes at Midnight, both of which are clever, original tributes to Shakespeare without presuming to remodel him. Seriously, from the writer of Downton Abbey we surely expected more charm, more grace, more intelligence. Maybe someone locked Fellowes in a tower with no food until he had finished this monstrosity. I truly hope that was the case. I feel better already.

And to all who have said something like "it's a way of connecting today's youth with classic literature" just stop right there. 'Classic literature' has managed to hold it's own for centuries, all the way from 1595 to 1996 when DiCaprio made us cry, so why, pray tell, has it suddenly become too much for our dear 'youth' in the 21st century? Has the world's collective 'youth' IQ taken a dramatic nosedive in the past eighteen years? Or is it because condescending, presumptuous dicks like yourself don't think our precious 'youth' can handle some iambs? That kind of thinking is actually making the world a dumber place.

In terms of casting (something that professionals actually get paid to do, by the way Carlo) I get the distinct impression that Hailee Steinfeld was chosen for this role very soon after True Grit, before she grew out of her pretty young charm and into a tomboy. Yes, she can act, yes, she's got a good face, but, no, she is not a Juliet. Especially not to Douglas Booth's Romeo. I can't recall a more fatal miscast then these two ill-equipped leads. There is simply no woman pretty enough to play a dove among crows opposite Booth. Except for maybe? No. No one. That face should be on a Calvin Klein underwear campaign, not on the silver screen with lines to deliver and stuff.

(And, side note, what 18 year old male who is so full of passion and temper that he crashes a wild party, falls madly in love with two different women, gets married, gets banished, and kills two guys and himself within the space of a few days chooses to spend an afternoon chiseling placidly away at a piece of marble? Really?? You had to do that???)

With wonderful, seasoned talent like Damien Lewis and Paul Giamatti on hand, and some new faces that have more or less proved themselves on screen, I had hopes. Instead, by the time the tomb scene came along, all I could think was: please God let this movie end and release me from its impotent, beige, trope-ridden hell. I had absolutely no emotional investment in the relationship between Romeo and Juliet. None. And what is the story of Romeo and Juliet when you suck all the life-blood out of the titular relationship? Something verging on Twilight. (Yeah, that was bad. See what this movie's done to me?)

Kodi Smit-McPhee as Benvolio was actually a true high point in the acting stakes. Too bad he looked like the placating younger brother lost amongst a cast of simian adult cousins ("We fight! We fight!" "No, come on you guys, let's just all get along!" "Shut up, Ben."). And Ed Westwick had some wonderful potential as Tybalt; he just needed a director who could help him reign it in a bit and bring out the character subtleties. Alas. No such delicacy was achieved.

In summary, the experience of watching this atrociously-rendered, high-school musical offering, which had the quality and charm of a preliminary blocking read-through for a TV movie, was so terminally saddening that I had to watch Luhrmann's version immediately after. If only to hear the whole Prologue. I mean, not even 'star cross'd lovers' was sacred. Good god.

This movie took a turn for the worse the moment I saw a jousting stick. And it never recovered.

To embody the spirit of Will McAvoy: This movie is the worst period adaptation period ever period.
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A Rose by Any Other Name
megan_chatterton19 March 2022
I feel that this film is getting more negative reviews than is probably merited. If not an adaptation of the play, it would probably be treated much more leniently. It's a mostly faithful adaptation of Shakespeare's most famous play with decent acting and beautiful costuming and sets.

Sure, the dialogue is a bit weird at time, and yes, there are a lot of lingering kissing scenes... and yes some of the content is changed, but it works. Compared to the extremely out-there DiCaprio version, this is a great alternative for kids out there watching in their English classes and getting their first exposure to the Bard's work.
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MajorBaleegh7 February 2014
Today I watch the movie after the end I feel myself crying in tears as the ending of the movie was very touchy and disappointed. I never knew before that they are characters of "William Shakespeare" play rather I thought they were two lovers from the pages of history of old England. The cinematography, the layout, the scenery, the dresses, the dialog, the dialect, the acting and the actors especially the Romeo, Juliet and the father played their part to the limit. I watched the movie three times in a row and the concluding scene was so touchy and I left my self heartfelt all the time I complete the movie. The dialog of the entire movie was in the form of verses and the English was at its best in the movie. The chemistry in between Romeo and Juliet was really outstanding and there is not even a single flaw in the entire movie. After watching the movie it can be well judged that how much a great writer was William Shakespeare. I loved the movie and gave this movie 10 out of 10 based on the facts that it was a masterpiece. Relativity Media really did a fine job for which they really need to be reckoned with. I suggest the people who like to watch love story movies must watch this masterpiece as these 118 minutes are worth to watch.
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Who let this happen?
vicky_jam2916 October 2013
If you enjoy the immortal words of Shakespeare's eponymous play then DO NOT SEE THIS FILM! I only stayed for an hour and that is an hour of my life I will never get back. I'm baffled as to how anyone could bastardise Shakspeare to such an extent that it was almost unrecognisable.

It really was 'Shakespeare for Dummies' rewritten by a man who is clearly so arrogant as to think the general public couldn't possibly understand or enjoy the original text. Job well done Mr Fellowes because I barely recognised any of it so if that was your intention then, bravo! You would really be better of watching 'Shakespeare in Love' if you want an introduction to Romeo & Juliet that stays true to the text & also has an enjoyable narrative rather than this drivel.

The acting was contrived and there was absolutely zero chemistry between the two leads. Also it was very disconcerting watching a 'boy' play Romeo that was prettier than many females I know.

If you love Romeo & Juliet, for you own peace of mind, stay away from this aberration. If you enjoy Twilight, this might be for you.
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This "Romeo & Juliet" is one that's tough to forget.
dave-mcclain28 October 2015
Many films, not all alike in quality, In fair cinema, where we lay our scene, From ancient story to new screen idolatry, Where repetition makes some critics mean.

Shakespeare's tragic young lovers on screen oft before, for each generation and all others, in '36, '68, '96 and more.

This time Hailee Steinfeld plays Juliet, With Douglas Booth, her devoted Romeo, She, an Oscar nominee for the film "True Grit". And for a handsomer man, you'd have far to go.

The cast includes Natasha McElhone, The long-suffering muse on "Californication", And Damian Lewis, who starred on "Homeland", As a Congressman and a threat to our great nation.

Ed Westwick as hotheaded Tybalt is perfectly cast, having played the scheming Chuck on TV's "Gossip Girl". The rest of the actors, from the first to the last, All well-cast in their roles, from countries around the world.

The language they all speak is truly Shakespeare's own, With some speeches omitted or just changed. The words in the script, to Americans not unknown If you miss a few, the acting keeps you engaged.

I'd be remiss in this review if I failed to mention This retelling of the story is not without invention. The settings and scenery, share a common beauty And with innocence and fragility, Juliet's a cutie.

To conclude, I move on to other plays from which I dare to paraphrase. I hope to close this review on a helpful note, And maybe even give you something to quote.

When deciding on a film for popcorn ingestion, To see or not to see, that is the question. You could just choose to get thee to a nunnery, But that wouldn't be nearly as much… funnery.

Okay, I'm out. Let's see YOU find rhymes for question and nunnery. (Not to mention Stellan Skarsgård and Paul Giamatti, who are great as the Prince of Verona and Friar Laurence, respectively.) The earlier versions of this story are mostly very good, each in its own way, and this one definitely holds its own. If you enjoy love stories with drama, see 2013's "Romeo & Juliet". "B+"
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What was this supposed to be?
charlesfernandez51516 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
OK look I love R &J the play but this was...I don't know what. The acting was all over the place things were added. No Passion between the two leads. Death scene added something that I don't think should have been added.

Positives: Ed Westwick, Paul Giamatti and Damien Lewis stole the show. Booth at least appeared to be making an effort. Visually it was excellent. Was glad to see the Paris/Romeo fight finally put in.

Negatives: 0 Passion between the two leads, at no point did I ever believe these two were in so much love/or lust as some would say that they would take their own life. Scenes were added that were just not needed. For example: In the play it goes from The wedding to Benvolio and Mercutio and Benvolio saying "I pray thee Good Mercutio let's retire." In the movie It went wedding, and then for some reason a scene of Tybalt practicing with swords inter cut with a scene of Romeo and Juliet running along a meadow and kissing against a tree.

Another Neg. it was too short and it felt very rushed.

I love R & J but this was I don't know what. 4/10.
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this broke Shakespeare
james_shaw19909 March 2014
you know the story, you knew about it before you even read or watched an adaption of it. this is because it is considered a timeless piece which this film failed to realize. Romeo + Juliet (1996) understood and played on the idea that you don't need to place Shakespeare in Elisabethan times to make the story work. this adaption should never have been made, too much unoriginal dialogue added unnecessarily. there is a reason why R+M (96) is shown to English students, because even though how vastly removed from original time and location, the characters, dialogue, plot are more relatable and loyal to the original material.

the story allows the director to experiment with countless adaptions, this movie could have been made out in space, a pixar animation, gay lovers, anything fresh and re imagined would have been welcomed,the director got it backwards, he kept the era and plot but changed the dialogue shamelessly. his writing isn't up to scratch to make it work, but don't blame the director, i blame the producers who didn't have the common sense or loyalty to Shakespeare to let this movie find its proper place in the bin
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What is this dreck?
Seyerr21 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Came into this with low expectations and still ended up disappointed. The leads, Douglas Booth and Hailee Steinfeld - played their parts like they're in a school play. Their Romeo and Juliet lacked chemistry and the passion that was supposed to drive the story was underwhelming.

The additional scenes and original dialogue changes were unnecessary and kind of grating but not as much as the seriously miscast Hailee Steinfeld who couldn't handle the dialogue and rushed her delivery. Douglas Booth, on the other hand, did okay and was so distractingly pretty - even prettier than beautiful Hailee. Ed Westwick as Tybalt was over the top as he brooded and flared his nostrils like straight out of a telenovela.

The bright spots were Paul Giammati who was engaging and funny, as well as Lesley Manville, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Damian Lewis. The scenery was stunning and the costume/makeup were pretty good except for Westwick's Professor Snape wig which I swear drew some laughter from my theater.

All in all, the acting was mediocre but the bad direction and writing were the downfall of this film.
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Loved the movie
Twiggerfamily18 June 2014
Well I loved this version of Romeo and Juliet - the scenery is stunning, the music is beautiful, the acting authentic and Douglas Booth as the lead is incredible. Having visited Verona myself in the past it was wonderful to see the original setting used for the film. The film is full of passion and action and the young cast add to the authenticity of it.

As a lover of Shakespeare I thoroughly enjoyed the film and feel it's a good introduction for youngsters.

it's a fabulous movie if you love romance and drama and I would thoroughly recommend it.
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