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Perhaps the most inferior remake yet
on 23 June 2014
Usually I award three stars to a film I consider to be of watchable quality, but no better. In this case I would add the caveat that it is nevertheless not actually worth watching when you could instead be seeing Zeffirelli's version, even if for the umpteenth time. As I regard the latter as the best film ever made, you may suspect I went into Carlei's version with a closed mind, but I think not. The makers of this film must surely be aware how very often good films are remade disastrously, so I saw it having imagined they would at least have made a valiant effort to compete with such a peerless film. I was wrong. I had also thought they deserved interest for their sheer nerve in taking it on. In the event, the idiocy of mounting such a feeble challenge undermined the sympathy I might have had for the time and money they wasted.
The screenplay writer is either arrogantly stupid to think he can improve on Shakespeare, most of whose dialogue has been done away with, or so patronising he assumes the audience is too stupid to understand Shakespeare.
The acting of the two leading roles was atrociously wooden. The Juliet was fatally lacking in both beauty and spark. The Romeo was good-looking enough, but in the wrong way: too self-consciously so and without the captivating touch of melancholy that made Whiting perfectly-cast in Zeffirelli's film. This most famous of all love stories has one bedroom scene; if there is one moment in the whole of cinema where some frank homage to the eros that underpins youthful passion is strongly called for, it is here. Zeffirelli did so with a few exquisitely tasteful nude shots. Carlei's failure to do likewise is unforgivable. If he is too much in thrall to the sour attitudes of the day towards celebrating teenage beauty, that alone was reason enough to desist from making a film obviously better suited to a more romantic age.
The redeeming feature was the sumptuously beautiful scenery and cinematography, but even here the old film was as spectacular and its costumes more so.
Only months after seeing it, that is about all I can still remember about this forgettable film.
Edmund Marlowe, author of Alexander's Choice, a modern tragedy of forbidden love, www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1481222112