Romeo and Juliet Movie Review
Kidzworld reviews the latest version of the most famous romance of all time. Romeo and Juliet is here for a new generation to fall in love with and cry over. Will you?
By: Lynn Barker
In old Italy, hot young single guy Romeo Montague (Douglas Booth) takes his pals and crashes a ball thrown by the sworn enemy of his family, the Capulets because he thinks the girl he is crushin’ on Rosaline (Nathalie Rapti Gomez) will be there. As soon as he sees Juliet Capulet (Hailee Steinfeld) he’s all about her and only her. He takes her aside and shares how he feels.
Lovesick, Romeo sneaks back into the Capulet compound, spies Juliet on her balcony and climbs up. There is lots of kissing and the duo swears to run away if they have to and get married.
Lord and Lady Capulet (Damian Lewis and Natascha McElhone) expect young Juliet to marry Count Paris (Tom Wisdom) thus securing the family fortune. Paris is cute and all but Juliet’s heart is a goner to Romeo alone.
The Marriage and the Melee
Romeo and Juliet sneak away and the friendly Friar Laurence (Paul Giamatti) secretly marries them. Juliet’s cousin Tybalt (Ed Westwick) is totally hot-headed ticked off that Juliet is even friendly with a Montague so he and his homies find Romeo and his gang and a big swordfight breaks out. Romeo tries to stop it but Tybalt kills his bestie Mercutio (Christian Cooke). Tybalt and Romeo go at it and Romeo kills Tybalt.
Romeo is banished from Verona for killing Tybalt but spends a honeymoon night as a married couple with Juliet before fleeing town in the early morning. Meanwhile, Juliet’s dad has arranged for her to marry Paris and her parents tell her the plan. Now she is totally freaked! She’s already married, to the son of her family’s greatest enemy. Yikes!
The Friar’s Plan
Asking for help from the friendly friar, Juliet tells him she’s ready to kill herself. This gives the friar the idea to give her a potion that will make her look and seem dead. Then, he’ll send word to Romeo and, when she wakes, they will secretly go away together. Sounds weird but workable. Juliet takes the potion and, when her mother and servants come to wake her for her wedding to Paris, they think she’s dead and there is a funeral. She’s taken to the family crypt. The friar sends a novice to nearby Mantua where Romeo is living with a letter explaining the plan.
Romeo’s pal Benvolio (Kodi Smit-McPhee) sees Juliet “dead” and rushes to tell Romeo. He gets there before the friar’s man who has stopped on the way to help a dying child so Romeo thinks his love is dead. Romeo gets his own poison and vows to kill himself in Juliet’s tomb. Once there, he encounters Paris who won’t let him see his dead love so he has to kill Paris. The friar learns that Romeo never got his letter and rushes to the crypt.
Paris sees Juliet “dead” and drinks the poison and dies! Juliet wakes from her drugged sleep, sees her love dead and tries to drink some of his poison but none is left so she stabs herself in the heart with his dagger. The friar feels totally responsible and cries. The young lovers are laid to rest together and the warring families mourn their dead and vow never to fight again.
A beautiful-to-look-at, but very unimaginative re-telling of the classic love story, this new version of Romeo and Juliet remains very true to the Shakespeare text, only adding a few scenes and extra lines.
I felt that the older generation of actors in the film were overall better than the new. Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis really stand out as Friar Laurence and Juliet’s dad Lord Capulet. “Gossip Girl’s” Ed Westwick makes a super intense and ticked-off Tybalt. Hailee Steinfeld, as Juliet is earnest and captures the teen-in-love’s innocence but she spouts off some of her lines in such a hurry that we’re not totally sure she understands all of them. Hailee is a sweetheart and very pretty but Douglas Booth, as Romeo, is classically gorgeous. There is almost an imbalance there. “She doth teach the torches to burn bright”.. oh yeah? Well, she’s cute but look at yourself, dude. You lit them up in the first place!
From talking to the two young actors, we get the idea that Douglas and Hailee became great friends during the shoot but this ultra-passionate love tale needs a lot more than friendship feelings to drive the plot. The PG-13 rating keeps the film from getting too steamy. For some pretty hot chemistry (at least on screen) rent the 1960’s version of the tale, Franco Zefferelli’s “Romeo and Juliet”. Olivia Hussey, also a teen playing Juliet back then, and her hot Romeo Leonard Whiting really set some sparks flying. For a very different, updated version try the 1996 film starring a young Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes.
If you are reading the play in school, this film will certainly bring it to life since it is set in the Italy of the late 16th century as Shakespeare intended. Costumes are beautiful as are the Italian ancient city locales where the movie was shot. The film is worth seeing but a modern teen will probably look at the sad tale unfolding and think, “Sheesh, if they just had cell phones, none of this tragedy would have happened”. So true. We’ll go 3 stars.
Romeo and Juliet Movie Rating:
Romeo and Juliet is in theaters October 11th!