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New Romeo and Juliet adaptation doesn’t bring anything new

William Shakespeare is revisited, yet again, in another play-to-screen adaptation. Recounting the epic tale of the star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet is taken on by Italian director Carlo Carlei and writer Julian Fellowes, of Downton Abbey fame, for a 21st century remake. While the film does elegantly depict Renaissance-era Italy with colourful costumes and a breathtaking set, it seems to fall flat and becomes tragic—but not in the good Shakespearean way.

Following the whole “looks over substance” ideology, the cast is filled with a group of gorgeous-looking brunettes. Romeo and Juliet stars Douglas Booth and Hailee Steinfield in the titled roles. Both up-and-coming stars do neither a good nor bad job of convincing the audience they’re desperately in love with one another. Honourable acting mentions include 17-year-old Kodi Smit-McPhee as Benvolio and Ed Westwick portraying Tybalt.

Costume and set-wise, this film deserves A-pluses. The scenery, the haunting castles, Juliet’s infamous balcony covered in dainty flowers, the intricately designed dresses—all of these and more allowed for the movie to create romantic and delicate scenes. Put plainly, 15th century Verona never looked better and earns this movie its stripes as a good period piece.

However, even with all of this, you can’t help but wonder why we need another Romeo and Juliet movie, or even a Shakespearean one for that matter. They should’ve just left all the swashbuckling, sword fighting, and long romantic gazes to the Franco Zeffirelli adaptations, or not picked up the story after the modernized Baz Luhrmann version. I mean, who can ever replace Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo?


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