Romeo and Juliet
Image: Relativity Media
Hailee Steinfeld and Douglas Booth in Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet
Our Rating
1½ Stars - Weak
Average Rating
 
(3 user ratings)ADD YOURSHelp
Mpaa Rating
PG-13 (For violence and thematic elements)
Genre
Directed By
Carlo Carlei
Run Time
1 hour 53 minutes
Cast
Damian Lewis, Laura Morante, Tomas Arana, Kodi Smit-McPhee
Theatre Release
October 11, 2013 by Relativity Media

No one watches a new version of an old story just to find out what happens. And when the story in question is one of Shakespeare's most well-known tragedies, it has to be a little punchy to distinguish itself from the dozen or so renditions that have come before it.

Or at least just very good.

But at best, Carlo Carlei's Romeo and Juliet is a perfunctory retelling in the most necessary of Shakespeare's original words, dripping with ornamentation, including billowy gowns and dainty poison bottles.

Adapted by Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey, Gosford Park) and set in the play's original time and place, this retelling is "more inconstant than the wind" (Mercutio's words, not mine). Some slight changes in the script to condense longer lines come off a bit cheesy when compared with some of the more famous monologues in their full splendor. The camera always seems to be a little far or just a bit too uncomfortably close to the actors' faces.

And there's just too much music: the soundtrack sounds like Narnia sprinkled in stardust, too sweepingly dramatic in scenes where a better option was probably no music at all. Perhaps the problem was Fellowes' penchant for a little extra drama, or the acting, which falls all along the talent spectrum. Or both. Either way, it's sub-Shakespeare.

The iconic star-crossed lovers are played by Douglas Booth (whose last movie was LOL with Miley Cyrus) and Hailee Steinfeld (2010's True Grit). Booth is a model, and he makes sense as Romeo until he starts speaking. His performance was bolstered by energetic Mercutio (Christian Cooke) and a dynamic Paul Giamatti as Friar Lawrence.

But we're supposed to be swooning at Romeo's famous ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Tags:
Browse All Movie Reviews By:
Read These Next
Current IssueSpiritual Longing on the Silver Screen
Spiritual Longing on the Silver Screen Subscriber Access Only
How the makers (and watchers) of movies are engaged in a kind of prayer.
RecommendedWhy We Need Wonder Woman
Why We Need Wonder Woman
Even when it falters, the new female-led film brings freshness to the superhero flick.
TrendingKay Warren: 'We Were in Marital Hell'
Kay Warren: 'We Were in Marital Hell'
Through God's work in our lives, we've beaten the odds that divorce would be the outcome of our ill-advised union.
Editor's PickFinding My ‘True Self’ As a Same-Sex Attracted Woman
Finding My ‘True Self’ As a Same-Sex Attracted Woman
In my young-adult struggle with sexual identity, both legalistic condemnation and progressive license left me floundering.
Christianity Today
Romeo and Juliet
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

October 2013

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.