Remakes of classic stories are almost as old as some of the classic tales themselves. "Romeo and Juliet" is reimagined yet told in the classic setting for the 21st century and a new generation with some fairly uninspired and tepid results.
The classic tale of love from William Shakespeare himself chronicles the story of star-crossed lovers (Hailee Steinfeld and Douglas Booth). Both are members of enemy families sworn to violence and when Romeo of the House of Montague and Juliet of the House of Capulet meet, forbidden love ensues.
With this latest take on "Romeo and Juliet" we are presented with a reasonably well made, but all be it forgettable entry into the canon. It just wasn't necessary and adds little to nothing or gives us a fresh take on a classic story. Director Carlo Carlei tells the story competently enough and it looks quite good but having the younger set romp around Verona telling the tale truly doesn't add anything to the story. Set design, costumes, cinematography were all first rate but it was incredibly sterile and felt like the cast of Gossip Girl had an extracurricular project that none of them were all that inspired to breathe any legitimate life into it all. It had the look and the sound of a classic Shakespearean adaptation, but truly none of the passion that the material genuinely warrants.
Hailee Steinfeld is a quality young actress but gets swept up into a by the numbers adaptation and Douglas Booth is pained to genuinely carry any film yet at this stage in his career. Kodi Smit-McPhee seems miscast and out of place and Ed Westwick is seemingly their just to scowl at people. Natasha McElhone, Damien Lewis and Stellan Skarsgard try to add some gravitas to the proceedings and Paul Giamatti as the faithful friar is laughably bad and out of place. Everyone's intentions seem to be good, but it never really works as these actors always feel like they are just existing on the surface of the characters that they are trying to play.
At the end of the day, this big screen version of "Romeo and Juliet" is perfectly passable but there are better versions because this won't be the one that inspires a new generation to the works of William Shakespeare, it's just too damn dull.
1 out of 5 stars.
"Romeo and Juliet" is playing tomorrow in theatres all across the country, please check with your local listings for show times.