Romeo + Juliet
- Baz Luhrmann
- Reviewed by
- José Ruiloba a.k.a. Morris
- Review date
- Tuesday, September 04, 2001
The Montague and Capulet families can’t stand each other. They are archrivals and it’s all hatred between them. One day, Romeo (Leonardo DiCaprio), a Montague, and Juliet (Claire Danes), a Capulet, meet and instantly fall in love. Their story ends in tragedy as the bond that holds them together can’t overcome the pressure that surrounds them.
Romeo and Juliet has got to be William Shakespeare’s best-known play. Why is that? Simple: it’s about love. Its main themes are timeless. Its characters are easy to identify with. Everything about it is just irresistible.
There have been quite numerous screen adaptations of this story to the big screen. Some are better than others, and there’s at least one that is a classic: Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 version. Luhrmann was not trying to compete when he shot this modern retelling. He just wanted to tell it his own way. What does that mean? Style baby... lots of style.
Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet achieves the difficult task of making this old story seem original all over again. The dialogue is still Shakespearean, so is the story. But it has all been transformed into a cooler environment in a wild, colorful manner. Quick camera tricks, the most peculiar characters, great sets, great music, great ideas...
The so-called “best love story ever told” is brought to life by a couple of very talented actors that bring each other to their roles with a demanding effect. Leonardo DiCaprio makes of Romeo a classy, adventurous, passionate man with ease. Claire Danes, on the other hand, makes an excellent Juliet; she’s romantic, brave, conflicted. All these words could perfectly describe the movie as a whole, and both actors simply show why. Pete Postlethwaite, John Leguizamo, Paul Sorvino, Diane Verona and Brian Dennehy are all outstanding as well.
It is difficult to find truly passionate movies these days. Romeo + Juliet couldn’t be more intense and earnest in its approach. It works in its very own way, and that’s what truly matters. There’s even one scene that can be described as pure magic: that of Romeo meeting Juliet. Easily my favorite one among a handful of unforgettable other scenes and images.
An incomparable, inventive version of an unmatched classic!
“A plague o' both your houses!”
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