William Shakespeare has written some of the most fantastic plays ever performed in the English language– rather any language. But Romeo and Juliet is not the Bards’ greatest play, rather one of his weakest honestly. The play suffers from poor and awkward pacing as well as a surplus of useless characters who make the play confused and non-focused. The love story between the two leads is fake and unbelievable and happens way too quickly. This movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio takes the original play by Shakespeare and keeps it exactly the way it is, but throws the original dialogue into the modern-day. This is weird and funky at first but becomes more and more uncomfortable as the movie goes on.
The film opens with a television reporter reciting the “Two households both alike in dignity…” monologue which is absolutely clever and wonderfully executed. Then the opening scene comes along right after and shows the audience within the first few minutes that this concept is creative but does not work. We then get a feature-length film of this concept which really just does not work. The production otherwise of this film is great, with a pretty good performance by Leonardo DiCaprio, Claire Danes does a decent job, Pete Postlethwaite is funny in the role of the Friar, Dash Mihok is interesting as Benvolio, Paul Rudd is also in the movie, and Harold Perrineau is absolutely wonderful as Mercutio. Perrineau is probably the only actor in this film who does something truly new and interesting with his character in this film. Sure Mercutio is already the best character in the play no matter what, but Perrineau does not disappoint. Visually the film also offers something fairly interesting. Even though it comes off as confused, the film has some moments of funny jokes. Most notably to me is the “Give me my longsword, ho!” line in which the film plays with the words very humorously. The film also does benefit from a good film editing. The film is also beautiful to look at, especially the scenes from Romeo’s banishment to the dessert.
I did not enjoy or appreciate this film in the way I think it was intended, some people will probably appreciate this film for what it is: a commentary on the timelessness of art. But I don’t. This film could have really have been good I think, if new dialogue had been written. I’m not against using Shakespeare’s original dialogue, just as long as it’s not a part-modernization. Overall this film is very very confused and didn’t manage to understand itself which subsequently leads to a very awkward watching.
Best Aspect- Harold Perrineau
Worst Aspect- The partial modernization