Romeo + Juliet

Bomb Rating: 

Avoid this film because every spoken line is going to be followed by a chorus of "Huh?", "Whut?" and "Whaditty Say?" from an audience of confused, frustrated and increasingly violent teenagers.

The new generation of MTV filmmakers has adopted a rather unsound moviemaking premise: "If it's loud it won't suck." So it's no surprise that director Baz ("Strictly Ballroom") Luhrmann's approach to Shakespeare expands this premise to, "Since it's Shakespeare, let's make it so incredibly loud that people can't think straight -- then they might actually pay attention." Well, no such luck. Loud Shakespeare just means that when you leave the theater, the ringing in your ears has a meter to it.

Fans of Leonardo DiCaprio (Romeo) and Claire Danes (Juliet) will realize they've been tricked by the marketing weasels when, not less than five minutes into the film, they're forced to turn to each other and yell the following words over the din: "What the hell are they saying?"

Yes, it may be a modern day setting and modern day music, but that only makes the good, old incomprehensible Shakespearean dialogue stick out even more awkwardly by comparison. If you're even a mild Shakespeare fan you might as well avoid this film because every spoken line is going to be followed by a chorus of "Huh?", "Whut?" and "Whaditty Say?" from an audience of confused, frustrated and increasingly violent teenagers.

Luhrmann's interpretation, such as it is, isn't exactly original. Gang warfare -- wow, I never would have thought of that. Additionally, Luhrmann attempts to explain things through captions such as, "The Capulets and the Montagues are enemies," which really helped explain why they were riddling each other with bullets (I thought it was just random misfires and bad aim). Why stop there? I think such captions as "Romeo and Juliet are now kissing" and "You are in a theater, stupid" would have greatly helped this movie reach its intended audience.

To spread the word about this Romeo + Juliet review on Twitter.

To get instant updates of Mr. Cranky reviews, subscribe to our RSS feed.
2 Comments

Like This Romeo + Juliet Review? Vote it Up.

0

Rate This Movie:

Average: 2.5 (4 votes)

Other Cranky Content You Might Enjoy

  • This movie makes it fairly obvious that the filmmakers doubt "a love of Shakespearean theater" is enough to draw people into the theaters.

  • Apparently there's some mandate in Hollywood that Julia Stiles must be in every teen movie based on a Shakespeare play.

  • If you want to see a film that will suck the life right out of you, try this one.

Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet

Zettel's picture

I love this movie.

But I recommend to everybody to thoroughly read the play first. Otherwise you might have trouble with the language of the year 1600.

It's interesting to compare it to Zeffirelli's old-fashioned version made in the 1960s. That one contains more of the iambic pentameter lines than Luhrmann's. Zeffirelli's actors are better at speaking British (!) English, and better at pronouncing blank verse correctly. BUT: the 2 leading actors just don't act well. And acting is more important than pronunciation IMHO. A movie is not a radio play after all. Danes and DiCaprio shine, and the way they speak is still good enough to make the result Shakespeare worthy although some people may find it too American. You can feel the emotion, feel the atmosphere ... Love it.

BTW:

When I spotted this at the bottom of the page:

"CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Math Question: *
14 + 3 = "

I found it very nice of you to add this explanation:

"Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4."

Without this explanation I really wouldn't have known what to do.

You'd be surprised at the

jazzdrive3's picture

You'd be surprised at the number of people who actually wouldn't know what to do.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.