Movie Review & Giveaway: Romeo & Juliet

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Posted 10/11/2013 by alicemarvels in Behind the scenes

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When I first heard Douglas Booth and Hailee Steinfeld were going to take on Romeo & Juliet I wasn’t sure about it. First of all, she is SO young looking, and also do we really need yet another Romeo & Juliet adaptation?

Well as it turns out, this one does have quite a lot to offer. Set in a very beautiful and faithful 1400’s era Verona, the scenery is gorgeous, completely transporting us to the fictional world of our star-crossed couple. This adaptation is a mostly faithful version aimed at teens and young adults, with a lot of humorous winks at adults too. While Steinfeld does appear much younger next to Booth, I actually think her youthfulness fits the role perfectly. Juliet is supposed to be the picture of innocence, transformed before our eyes through tragedy. While this adaptation wasn’t perfect, it was definitely an enjoyable film.

The Good:

It helped me to stop romanticizing this story

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When Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet came out, I was a boy-crazy immature little girl, and I TOTALLY got why these two would fall for each other so quickly, marry in secret, then dramatically kill themselves. It made perfect sense to my warped little brain, so as you can imagine, the movie adaptation was an intense, overly romantic and tragic experience for me.

This version just made me feel sorry for Romeo and Juliet. They come off as so naive, so young, and it is obvious that all of this could have been avoided with a bit more level-headedness. And let’s be honest, most likely, given enough time, the “violent passions” that had such “violent ends” would have simmered down a little. Romeo would have borrowed her tights one too many times, or she would have argued with him about larks vs nightingales one too many times, and they would realize that life is full of compromises small and large, and maybe poison and daggers aren’t the cure-alls they seem to be.

 

New insight into the characters

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The number one thing I took away from this was what a troublemaker Friar Laurence is! Paul Giamatti totally nailed this enabler, and he played him in such a way that I was wondering if he really wanted to orchestrate this whole tragedy on some level. He had such and intelligent, knowing look in every scene, I thought for sure he must have known where his schemes would lead.

“Oh sure, marry in secret, I’ll help you! Hey, have you thought about faking your own death yet? It’s pretty much the best idea ever. I’ll help you! Then I’ll send a letter, a LETTER, with a bumbling novice, to avoid certain tragedy. What could possibly go wrong with a letter to a distant city?”

Then what is he doing the whole time Romeo is making his way to the tomb? Just catching some z’s, it would seem. Kind of an important death-faking/couple-reuniting moment is supposed to be going down; the least the good friar could do is stay awake, and I don’t know, maybe head over to the tomb to make sure it all goes down according to plan? It was HIS plan after all.

 

Ed Westwick Was Born to Play Tybalt

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Nobody snarls like Chuck Bass, er, Ed Westwick. He was exactly the menacing, prowling panther of a fighter Tybalt is meant to be. And his anger leaps off the screen. I loved his take on Tybalt, and it made his scenes with Romeo all the more dramatic and intense.

 

Mercutio!

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Mercutio is always a character favorite of mine, but not every actor does him justice. Christian Cooke is definitely in the “doing Mercutio justice” camp. He has a jovial, playful delivery that makes the most of his heavily truncated speeches. The second most emotional scene in the movie is all his, and he threatens to steal every scene he’s in. LOVE HIM.

 

Outstanding Supporting Cast

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Nurse

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Some serious acting heavyweights round out the rest of the supporting cast, including Damian Lewis as Juliet’s father and Natascha McElhone as Juliet’s mother—both bringing a nice range of emotions to their parts. Perhaps the best supporting performance was the Nurse, played by Lesley Manville, who gets the sweet Nurse’s joy, horror and cheeky humor just right. Kodi Smit-McPhee also does a wonderfully emotional turn as Benvolio.

 

Fair Verona

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The scenery in this film is absolutely breathtaking. It was actually shot in Verona and Mantua, and it’s not hard to see why Shakespeare chose these towns as the backdrop to such a romantic tragedy. They each clearly retain some of their medieval/Renaissance charm from the looks of this film. Since Romeo is a bit of an artist in this adaptation, we get to see plenty of sculptures and frescoes in the background, and it makes for a lovely setting.

 

The Bad:

So-So Romance

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It pains me to say this, but there really wasn’t a ton of chemistry between Booth and Steinfeld! They had a sweet enough repoire, but it didn’t approach anywhere near the passion of Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio in Romeo + Juliet. Sigh. I guess their lack of chemistry helped me see what a tragic, not romantic story this truly is, so I suppose it’s a net gain.

 

Blaspheming the Bard

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Too many lines get cut! I confess, I was sort of obsessed with this play in high school (the little girl obsession with the 90’s movie laid the foundation for a more substantive obsession when I finally studied it in school), so I memorized the play, or at least the major speeches. You do NOT mess with Mercutio’s death speech, do you hear me?!

 

Overall:

It was a worthwhile adaptation, definitely interesting and beautifully shot, and I think the actors did a great job, especially Paul Giamatti, Ed Westwick, Christian Cooke and Lesley Manville. While I did enjoy it, and thought director Carlo Carlei and screenwriter Julian Fellowes had an interesting take on the classic, when it was over, I had the strongest urge to re-watch Baz Luhrmann’s version, which was more subversive and creative in interpreting the bard’s language, and more believable in the passion department. Plus the sweet jams on the soundtrack—I miss them! Time for a Netflix date with myself.

 

 

Watch the trailer:

Giveaway:

Thanks to Swarovski Entertainment we have a Romeo & Juliet themed giveaway for you! One person will win a Romeo & Juliet poster and a Romeo & Juliet movie tie-in edition book.

romeoandjulietprizepack

Enter via the rafflecopter widget below:
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12 Comments


  1.  
    Leah

    I’m excited to see this!




  2.  

    Why is it bad if she is young looking? Since she should be 13




    •  
      alicemarvels

      That was just my initial reaction because of her age difference with Douglas in real life, but I was actually pleased with her, she was a faithful to the text Juliet. Now if only they had better chemistry! 🙂




  3.  

    First of all thanks for the giveaway. I was so happy to see this review. An English teacher at school told me there was a new Romeo & Juliet coming out, and I hadn’t heard that. She didn’t know much about it, except that it was not a modern retelling — it was authentic to the time. I haven’t had a chance to look it up. Now I can just forward her your excellent review.




  4.  

    LOL @ Romeo borrowing her tights!

    I have been waiting for feedback about this one, I am glad you liked it and that it helped put the whole tragic story in perspective for you. I really do want to see this one.




  5.  

    I do believe I have been living under a rock. A new Romeo & Juliet adaptation? Where have I been. lol Romeo & Juliet was my favorite of Shakespeare’s too so I’ll definitely be watching this one. Those shots of Verona are amazing. I think I’d see it for those scenes alone. Great review!




  6.  

    What a great review.

    I wanted to see this before but now that I read your review I want to see it even more.

    I want more insight.

    I don’t really know Ed Westwick but just looking at him, I totally get and believe that.




  7.  

    Is it wrong to say I want to watch it for the scenery? LOL




  8.  

    I think this will be a gorgeous movie, but I’m sad that so much was cut in the adaptation. I’ll still see it because Ed Westwick as Tybalt HAS to be awesome.




  9.  

    Mercutio is probably my favorite character, so that’s pretty lame that they messed with this death speech! I’m with you there. I’m glad you liked this one for the most part! I do love Shakespeare.




  10.  

    When I first heard of the Ed Westwick casting of Tybalt I just thought, wow, spot on casting! I think I like the Romeo and Juliet castings as well, from the standpoint of someone who hasn’t seen it yet. I do look forward to it!




  11.  

    I didn’t even know about this movie!!! I would watch it just for the scenery and costumes, lol. It’s disappointing they didn’t have more chemistry though. 🙁





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