Romeo + Juliet
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.
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