FBMR - Romeo + Juliet
Film-Buff Movie Reviews


Baz Luhrmann’s contemporary adaptation of Shakespeare’s ROMEO & JULIET is set in the city of Verona Beach. The text has been significantly edited, but has been kept in its original form. The actors do a good job at making it understandable and flow like today’s speech rather than the poetic rhythm of the old English text. There are a couple of places where it just sounds funny, though.

Some of the non-verbal choices that were made were quite powerful. Luhrmann took a number of liberties with this story, and they all seem to work well, and pull at you. We all know how the story ends, but somehow you can’t help but wonder if maybe this time the lovers will survive. And when it almost seems like they will, it makes the inevitable even harder to take.

Both Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes as the leads are strong. They were also quite vulnerable, as Luhrmann likes to make his characters when faced with great sorrow. (And of course, Di Caprio gets his hair wet. I'm beginning to wonder if he has it in his contract that he has to have a scene where his hair gets wet. In fact, I think the first time Juliet sees Romeo with dry hair is when they get married.) But the stand-out performance is by Harold Perrineau as Mercutio. Of course, Mercutio’s character is always a scene-stealer; Perrineau delivers a wonderfully energetic and haughty performance. Great soundtrack as well.