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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
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on 20 October 2014
Oh dear this is torture. They have given Romeo a sort of occupation (I guess amateur painter / sculptor is the general idea). Snub-nosed Juliet has brown eyes while both her parents (with dozens of close-ups just in case if you want to be very sure) have blue ones. When Romeo says "she doth teach the torches to burn bright" I physically cringed and had to leave the room. When Juliet says "And all my fortunes at thy foot I'll lay And follow thee my lord throughout the world" ... err, actually I didn't catch that one at all, I only heard the line because I knew it was there. Juliet doesn't speak her lines. I don't know what she speaks actually. I couldn't believe someone could see Juliet in this particular actress - the way she looks, the way she speaks, her whole person. There is not an iota of conviction anywhere.

So much for "each generation needs to see its own version of this classic". I think I'll stick to the 1960s version - at least that one still moves me to tears after 50 viewings. Please don't waste your time (or money).
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on 14 November 2015
I do love Romeo and Juliet very much and am open to adaptions of all kind. Seeing the pictures of this visually certainly appealing production I got all excited at first- for no good reason as it turned out. If you have never watched the play before, you might enjoy it. It is a very beautiful production, filmed at Verona and the costumes and scenery are stunning. However, they just got the play SO WRONG I could hardly stand it. I understand the director's decision to shorten a play, but adding scenes, like Tybalt confessing his love for Juliet, and worse adding this scene without pursuing this idea any further, doesn't make much sense for me. Furthermore, I don't understand why one would just add blatantly incorrect information, like calling Mercutio a Montague. That Mercutio is the only one who had a choice, and the first one to die is important for understanding his character, unfortunately as the viewer we don't get the chance to do so and this is but one example. The use of language was confusing for me. It was a mix of Elizabethan and modern English, done in a way that a fan of Shakespeare's language will be disappointed that the beauty of the language gets lost, and someone struggling with the old English still won't be able to understand everything. Actingwise I'll say that Romeo was quite good but Juliet had no depth of character, I liked friar Lawrence and Tybalt was very fiery- a good thing since Mercutio was boring as hell. So all in all, if you are just after pretty pictures and not attached to the story or language, go for it, otherwise save your money for a theatre visit.
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on 4 July 2014
Sure, whenever a Shakespeare play is adapted for screen, the director / screenwriter has to do some cutting if the film isn't to be over-long. And this can be done without mauling Shakespeare's original (see for example Polanski's Macbeth, Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet). But the writer on this version of "Romeo and Juliet" hasn't just cut: he's added bits of language and amended some of Shakespeare's. What's more, he's seen fit to do it by inserting some modern idiom. (For example, at one point somebody says "What's going on here?") Sorry, chum, in trying to out-do Shakespeare on language, you're losing from the word go. And by the way: the continuous over-loud background music drowned out a lot of what was being said anyway.
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on 28 February 2016
It's almost impossible to express how truly awful this adaptation is. With the exception of the brilliant Damian Lewis, the acting was dreadful, the script torturous, and the general conceit so unconvincing as to make me marvel that it actually made it off the cutting room floor. Honest, I'll weep at anything, but this extraordinary play has been massacred by this production and left me entirely unmoved.
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We are Romeo and Juliet fans in this household.

We were delighted to see another Romeo and Juliet film.

However, this version seemed lacking in terms of passion and emotion. It lacked the true 'core' of the story that it might have had. Being one of the biggest love stories of our time clearly huge passion is needed which just wasn't there - which left me feeling the film was rather incomplete. Yes, it tells the story of Romeo and Juliet, but there is something missing. Somehow also, the supporting actor / actresses seemed to almost take over from the main characters.

I would suggest that this is worth watching, but that it is missing a certain spark that you might expect from the story.
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on 8 November 2014
As a teacher I hoped this would be useful to compare with Zeffirelli and Luhrmann, but it's drivel. The pupils I showed it to liked it because it was in modern English and significantly simplified, so they didn't have to think about the language - what is Shakespeare without the language?
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on 7 January 2017
Spoiler Alert: (Seriously, if you don't know the ending you must be from another universe!) Juliet wakes up just as Romeo is dying and they KISS!!!! I threw a fit in the classroom and started shouting at the screen. Was forced to stop the movie and take out the No Fear Shakespeare editions of Rome and Juliet to PROVE to my student's this is NOT how it happens.

If you want an accurate version, you will still have to go with the tried and true 1968 Whiting versions. Sorry everyone, but cock pieces it is!
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VINE VOICEon 6 February 2014
Sticks pretty well to the play but does have one or two additional 'bit's' of dialog and the ending is pure cinema.

I've seen several versions of Romeo and Juliet, this makes the 4th different film version and while not the worse (thanks Leslie Howard :-), it's a long way from the best. The scenery is fairly good although the town seems strangely empty on occasion. As far as the acting goes, Douglas Booth as Romeo is fine, Damian Lewis as the head of the Capulet house is fine, Paul Giamatti as Friar Lawrence is excellent. Unfortunately, Hailee Steinfeld is very poor and not very believable as Juliet, most of the time I found it hard to understand what she was saying as she gabbles most of her lines. In this part she's pretty passionless and I would suggest badly miscast, walks through the part in fact. Pity.
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on 2 July 2015
I rarely give a bad review but. ....This film is awful.
The leads aren't convincing at all. The acting in most parts is poor and I shall be donating it to a charity shop.
If you haven't seen another version of Romeo and Juliet I recommend Zefferellis. It is excellent. The Leonardo Di Caprio one is pretty good too.
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