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Great adaption which resonates......,
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This review is from: Private Romeo [DVD] (DVD)
In the wake of DADT this adaption seems even more relevant than I expect it was originally intended.
Set in a military academy of young cadets, who in an open class are reading the Shakespearian play "Romeo and Juliet", one is introduced to the characters as they voice their respective parts. The story then blurs realities as the characters become themselves, with Romeo developing an intense affection and love for Juliet. The all male cast does not shy from the challenge of remaining faithful to one of William Shakespeare's most celebrated plays, and even though the female parts are played by men, there is never any confusion. If anything the hidden nature of their "unaccepted love" becomes a perverse metaphor that pervades the story though out. The two houses (Capulets and the Montagues) could be representative of many modern day realities, where normative society rejects alternative love for a variety of both spoken and unspoken reasons. In fact Shakespeare's words have a chilling resonance in them, when considered in light of the "gay love" between Privte Romeo and his Juliet...... "Whose misadventured piteous overthrows, Do with their death bury their parents' strife."
What comes to the for is that the "ancient grudge" (homophobia) pervades in an older world, where the young have little place, except to experience that prejudice on a daily basis. Whilst aware of the feelings many have in regards to their love, Romeo and Juliet are damned to pursue it. What evolves is a tender love story, fraught with modern angst. Any gay man who has dared to love, and allow himself to be loved in return, will know of the inner wars and outward battles that result from such a place.
The movie is extremely well acted, with some of the lessor parts being exceptional. Here special mention must be given to Hale Appleman who plays Mercutio, and Chris Bresky who plays Juliet's nurse.
The director himself says it best on the official web site: "Though Romeo and Juliet is usually interpreted as a romantic tale of young love thwarted by a family feud, recent re-readings convinced me that it is actually a much more modern, and relevant story about sexual identity and desire pitted against society and its institutions; about personal freedom and rights versus authority. As a gay man and an artist, frustrated by the political battles, and inaction, over gay equality, and by the heart-breaking epidemic of gay bullying, I thought Shakespeare would be the perfect vehicle for exploring these issues."
Indeed it is, and what a way of illustrating that frustration, political battle, and frustration.......often ignored, or understated by those that would seek to resurrect the institutions and beliefs of the past.
Some may find the movie a little long, and confusing at first. In the end however, it all falls into place and makes one think about its message long after the title credits have ended.