Fellowes' many changes diminish the power of Shakespeare's story.
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It’s all rote, dashed through, and somewhat detestable.
Carlei’s film is not particularly imaginative in terms of context, but it offers proof that this material never tarnishes, that with the right sort of movie magic, even a traditional telling can be thrilling.
This version is never rough, nor rude, nor boisterous, but for first-timers, perhaps wisely and slow is the way to go. There will be time enough for them to discover cinema’s superior adaptations anon.
Romeo & Juliet looks chintzy. The Capulets’ masked balls is designed in Pier 1 Imports colors and texture, the lovers’ secret marriage is performed in front of a green screen, and when Romeo goes up to Juliet’s balcony, he climbs a plastic vine with cloth leaves.
Doomed love will never go out of style, but would it have killed director Carlo Carlei to inject the proceedings with some modern-day aloofness? Today’s version will likely become a cheat sheet for slacking students, but it won’t inspire them to open their hearts to the text.
Shorn of eroticism, intensity or purpose... it strikes familiar beats in a manner more strained than inspired.
The most excellent and lamentable tragedy Romeo and Juliet has been turned into a film that is lamentable without the "excellent" part.
So as much as every generation deserves it’s own Romeo & Juliet, this latest one does nothing to make anyone older than Hailee Steinfeld forget the heat of Baz Lurhmann’s far sexier, noisier and passionate modern dress version of 1996, where Claire Danes and Leo DiCaprio completely convinced us that they knew how to “play Satan’s game.” And how.
It’s all tasteful and polished to a fault, but it feels like exactly what it is: an abbreviated version that preserves the high points, zips past the rest, and never approaches the depth of the full text.