Look, I get it. Shakespeare is the most influential writer of Western Civilization and it’s important to study his work and it’s influences on today. But, I thought I left that all behind in high school. Romeo + Juliet (1996) was not content for that to happen.
Romeo + Juliet, is an adaptation of the classic Shakespeare play, Romeo and Juliet, staring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes. The catch of this adaptation is that it’s set in modern day (or the ’90s but that was modern at the time). The second catch is that despite being set in modern day, this film uses the original Shakespearian dialogue. And, well, it just doesn’t work.
Or at least for me. I’m sure Shakespeare nerds go crazy for this movie but I don’t. It just doesn’t fit. I can’t quite explain the uneasy feeling the movie gives with the Shakespearian language in a modern day. The whole movie almost feels like when you’d talk to that one annoying kid in high school who liked to use fancy language because they thought it made them seem smart but really they just looked like an ass. The movie feels pretentious. It feels like it knows its too smart for my dumb brain, and that makes me resent it.
Also, the “When Doves Cry” cover in the middle of the movie feels very out of place.
The performances in the movie are good. Leo obviously brings his A game and the guy who plays Father Lawrence was great. But, the overall vibe of the movie drags it down.