Romeo and Juliet, a story of love, murder and perhaps the most dangerous…youth. Young teens facing forbidden romance and sweeping passion is a catalyst for woe and despair. Not even Bahz Lurman’s highly stylized 1996 adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet could capture the delicate tone of the play and the fragility of the setting. From elebrorate costumes and beautiful scenery, this version places you in the heart of the Capulet and Montague rivalry.
Ed Westwick, or Chuck Bass for Gossip Girl fans, plays a great villain as Tybalt of House Capulet. His unnerving loyalty to settle any score with the Montague’s makes him terrifying as his hatred blinds his reason. Douglas Booth gives Romeo a more genuine quality as apposed to an excitable young man playing house. Kodi Smit-McPhee plays the torn Benvolio, confidant and cousin to Romeo, his youth makes his struggle all the more upsetting as he tries to help Romeo see where his fate may lie. A surprise performance was Paul Giamatti as the Friar, his care and compassion toward Romeo and his love was so sincere and candid. American actress Hailee Steinfeld, as Juliet, played the love-struck part well and the mournful girl even better. The cast as a whole drives this film towards greatness.
However, and this is a big one, if you are a fan of the original text….do not go see this movie. Most of the exchanges between Lord Montague and members of his house were cut. One of my favorite quarrels was shorten and they even cut my favorite line, “ Do you bite your thumb at me, sir?”.In the productions defense, there is a lot of text to work with but still, some of the dialogue was important. And not that it is necessarily the actors fault although, he didn’t exactly help either, the character of Paris was awful. Not only did a bad wig plague him but silly grins and again, his lines being cut. The audience was given a false and goofy version that is the Count Paris.
Grand landscapes and wonderful acting talent make this film, in my eyes, a great Oscar contender. Aside from the obvious categories, costuming and hair, Ed Westwick and Paul Giamatti deserve some acknowledgment for their parts. Heartbreaking, stunning and tragic, Romeo and Juliet still transcends time and place. And…..
“For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo”
Romeo and Juliet – drama, romance (released Oct. 11)
Julian Fellowes (screenplay), William Shakespeare (play)
Hailee Steinfeld, Douglas Booth, Damian Lewis