But, soft! That light breaking over yonder is from the 70-foot screen on which the latest adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet” plays.
Written by “Downton Abbey” creator Julian Fellowes and directed by Carlos Carlei, the latest version of Shakespeare’s tragic tale casts Hailee Steinfeld and Douglas Booth as the titular star-crossed lovers, alongside an impressive cast of supporting players that includes Damian Lewis, Stellan Skarsgard and Paul Giamatti.
With all that star power, what do critics have to say about this latest reimagining? Keep reading to find out.
Romeo And Juliet
“Steinfeld is 16, which sounds young but is about right for Juliet. Booth is 21, handsome as can be, but also a strong Romeo. They don’t exactly ignite the screen with passion, but their chemistry is good.” — Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic
The Supporting Players
“But it’s veterans like Lewis and Giamatti who really make the material come alive. Lewis’ disbelief at his daughter’s refusal to marry another suitor, for example, is a thing of comic beauty that unexpectedly gives way to shocking parental rage, but he modulates the character’s headstrong authority to make him understandable, even sympathetic. Giamatti, on the other hand, provides a voice of reason, rolling his eyes at Romeo and Juliet’s melodramatic ups and downs while still offering shrewd, compassionate assistance to their plight.” — Todd Gilchrist, The Wrap
Do You Like Vampires?
“Superficial or swoonworthy? Actually, Carlo Carlei’s traditional take on ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is both. He and screenwriter Julian Fellowes seem determined to offer up starter Shakespeare for the ‘Twilight’ generation… But young viewers, who can relate to the innocent heroine and her crush on gorgeous Romeo, may not even notice. Carlei keeps the pacing up and Fellowes (an Oscar winner for ‘Gosford Park’) makes the language accessible even to those who’ve never heard — or read — it before. This version is never rough, nor rude, nor boisterous, but for first-timers, perhaps wisely and slow is the way to go. There will be time enough for them to discover cinema’s superior adaptations anon.” — Elizabeth Weitzman,New York Daily News
“While Carlei made a number of smart choices in service to authenticity — casting the young Steinfeld as Juliet, filming the picture in Verona, Italy — the film still manages to feel staggeringly inauthentic from top to bottom. Devoid of nuance, the production rushes between scenes and sequences, clearly assuming that everyone knows the story so well that they don’t need to put actual work into making it click.” — Kate Erbland, Film.com
The Last Word
“Billing itself as the first picture since Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 film to return Shakespeare’s endlessly malleable tragedy to its Veronese roots, director Carlo Carlei’s underwhelming adaptation, streamlined and simplified by Julian Fellowes from the original text, offers a throwback to classicism but is in little danger of being mistaken for a classic.” — Justin Chang,Variety