Thursday, October 10 2013, 03:20 PM MDT
Movie Review: Romeo and Juliet
1.5 out of 5 Stars
Director: Carlo Carlei
Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, Douglas Booth, Damian Lewis
Genre: Drama, Romance
Recommended To: Those that like pretty people running amuck of Shakespeare.
Synopsis: Star-crossed lovers from two feuding families become the innocent victims of their bloodlines pride.
Review: Working from a script by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellows, director Carlo Carlei's take on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is caught somewhere between Twilight and a perfume ad. Gone is most of the subtext and violence in favor of ramping up the romantic elements of the story (so much so that I expected the film to swap out the plays ending for a more appealing one). Douglas Booths Romeo looks the part, but his performance is unconvincing. Meanwhile Hailee Steinfeld, who was amazing in Joel and Ethan Coen's remake of True Grit, underwhelms as Juliet. Had the film managed to show any teeth her sugary-sweet innocence might have resonated, but when everything comes candy coated its hard to discern what might have been.
Baz Luhrmann's Romeo Juliet might have been more style than substance, but it at least tried to do something new with the story while keeping a fair balance of violence and romance intact. Even at its least effective moments the actors didn't appear to be overmatched by the material given to them. That's not the case here as Carlei's cast speaks the words but never convey their meaning. This disconnect leaves Paul Giamatti looking rather foolish as he appears to be the only actor emotionally involved in their performance. Sadly, not even Giamatti's Friar Laurence can't save this film from its narcissistic emptiness.
-Ryan Michael Painter