[Prev] [Home]  [Next]

Romeo and Juliet
by Jessica Dean (Ottawa Citizen - November 1, 1996)

William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is a brilliant play which has just been made into an equally brilliant movie. The new version, being released today, is one that is not to be missed. The screenplay in this movie is amazing, the camera angles are genius, and the acting is incredible.

The new twist put on this classic play is that although the language is vintage Shakespeare, the movie is set in modern times. The lines are exactly the same, but guns and drugs are used in the place of swords and alcohol.

Most students I know (including me), dread studying Shakepeare, because the language is extremely difficult to understand. One of the many great things about this movie is that after the first five minutes or so, you really get used to the language, and everything that is being said makes sense. The actors also use a lot of gestures and voice tones that really get the point across.

This version casts Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes in the title roles, and both are absolutely incredible. DiCaprio has a slightly larger part, and he shines in every scene he's in. There's something about the way he plays Romeo that is capivating, and it's nearly impossible to turn away from him. I wouldn't be surprised if he got an Oscar nomination for his role.

Danes is spectacular in the role of Juliet. She appears to be much older than her 17 years of age, her intelligence is very evident. Anyone who managed to catch My So-Called Life knows what to expect from this brilliant actress. Her Juliet is extremely sweet and caring, there is a real sense of innocence around her.

There are a variety of good supporting actors in this movie, playing various Capulets and Montagues, who are the warring families. John Leguizamo really stands out as Tybalt, Romeo's rival. He's very slick and almost creepy, it's a little uncomfortable watching him. Paul Rudd, which you will remember as Josh from Clueless, puts in a cute little role as Juliet's arranged fiance.

Baz Luhrmann, who directed this movie, uses sharp camera angles and fast-paced scenes that make the movie even more intense. He does an excellent job directing this film, although he did cut a few minor scenes from the play.

The truly amazing thing about this movie is how well it pulls off what could have been a very awkward premise. Seeing the sights of a huge, modern city, and hearing the sounds of centuries-old language at the same time is a very contrasting thing. Somehow, though, Romeo and Juliet makes it seem normal.

After seeing this movie, you might be inspired to go and read the play. The actors and actresses vividly bring the play to life, and it seems like the play would not be too difficult to read. I've never read the play in it's entirety, but I plan to soon.

Romeo and Juliet is a spectacular movie, one that I won't forget for a very long time. Never have I seen something so bizzare made so wonderful, and I doubt I will again. I highly recommend this movie to everyone, because I am positive you will enjoy it.

© Ottawa Citizen 1996