Romeo and Juliet Movie Review

This version of Shakespeare's classic tragedy was supposed to be more like Franco Zeffirelli's 1968 version than the 1996 Baz Luhrman rendition. It was in that it is set in the same time period as Zeffirelli's and nothing else. 

Julian Fellowes, the writer of this adaptation, said a week ago
“To see the original in its absolutely unchanged form you require a kind of Shakespearean scholarship and you need to understand the language and analyse it... I can do that because I had a very expensive education...I went to Cambridge. Not everyone did that.” This condescending attitude is evident throughout the film as the audience is forced to watch as his writing has butchers the Bard's language.

I understand that things had to be changed in order to appeal to a wider audience but this was ridiculous. From the beginning it is clear there was no need for the audience to have to try and understand Shakespearean language as they cut out the majority of the prologue and a random tournament was added in its place to try and make sense of things... it didn't. I can also not ignore the injustice of the cutting of "do you bite your thumb at me?" That is where the first conflict comes from whereas with this version I am not completely sure anyone understands why they fight but instead just pull out their swords at regular intervals and fight with whoever is near them.

What got me frustrated and a little angry was that instead of just cutting some of the tougher verses, Fellowes seems to have got it into his head that he is able to rewrite the words in the same way Shakespeare did. He can't. It was so obvious where he had added dialogue and scenes in with his own writing and it was just annoying.

Let's talk casting. Benvolio is 12 years old. What? Mercutio is gorgeous but pretty much walks into the sword. Juliet struggled to deliver the lines in a convincing manner and finally Daddy Capulet had a really weird haircut. The person that shone through them all was Paul Giamatti. Although his American accent slipped through every once in a while, he carried all other actors with his amazing performance. At the end, I did not cry for the lead characters. Instead, I got choked up for Friar Laurence, who Giamatti played. If you go see this film, go see it for him.Oh and Lesley Manville because she made me laugh.

The frustration I felt at Fellowes writing and some odd haircuts were dulled by the cinematography and the final part of the film. Somehow through all the chaos they managed to pull of a powerful ending which kept you on edge because of so many factors that could have averted the ending. I give the director credit for that.

As a film it was not the worst thing in the world but the patronising nature of Fellowes writing meant I was a little more confused and annoyed than I should have been.

Rating: 2.75/5


Post a Comment


Blogger news