19 March 2018

Romeo and Juliet 1996

Romeo and Juliet 1996
  • Director: Baz Luhrman
  • Based on the play by William Shakespeare
  • Cast: Claire Danes, Leonardo DiCaprio, John Leguizamo, Harold Perrineau, Pete Postlethwaite, Miriam Margoyles, Dash Mihok, Paul Sorvino, Brian Dennehy, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Paul Ruud, M. Emmet Walsh, Christina Pickles, Diane Venora
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Claire Danes – Stardust, Terminator 3, The Hours, Igby Goes Down, Les Misérables, To Gillian on Her Thirty-Seventh Birthday, Little Women
    • Leonardo DiCaprio – The Great Gatsby, Inception, Shutter Island, Blood Diamond, The Aviator, Gang’s of New York, Catch Me If You Can, Beach, Titanic, Marvin’s Room, The Basketball Diaries, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, This Boy’s Life
    • John Leguizamo – John Wick, The Lincoln Lawyer, Miracle at St Anna, The Happening, Moulin Rouge, Carlito’s Way
    • Harold Perrineau – The Matrix Revolutions, Dead Like Me, Matrix Reloaded, Lulu on the Bridge
    • Pete Postlethwaite – Inception, The Constant Gardener, Shipping News, Amistad, Brassed Off, The Usual Suspects, The Last Mohican, Alien 3, Hamlet
    • Miriam Margoyles – Harry Potter, Merlin, Modigliani, Being Julia, Ladies in Lavender, Sunshine, Mortal Beloved
    • Dash Mihok – I Am Legend, Day After Tomorrow
    • Paul Sorvino – Repo the Genetic Opera, Reds, The Panic in Needle Park
    • Brian Dennehy – The Roman Spring of Mrs Stone, The Stars Fell on Henrietta, Silverado, Foul Play, Looking for Mr Goodbar
    • Vondie Curtis-Hall – Honeydripper, The Sopranos, Gridlock’d, The Mambo Kings
    • Paul Ruud – The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Veronica Mars, Friends, Cider House Rules
    • M. Emmet Walsh – Wild Wild West, My Best Friend’s Wedding, Raising Arizona, Silkwood, Blade Runner, Reds, Little Big Man
    • Christina Pickles - Friends
    • Diane Venora – Hamlet, Heat, Hamlet, Bird, Ironweed
  • Why? Shakespeare
  • Seen: Four or five times before. Now 18 March 2018      

       My favourite version of the play ever since the first time I saw it. It starts with one long, fast-paced hard rock-disco video, Marvel comix parody, gangster action and develops into a disrespectful and completely faithful and loving homage to Shakespeare’s original. From the television news coverage to police helicopters, from the tawdry beach commerce to gaudy Capulet mansion and hallucinatory party, from the massive Christ statue looming over the city to the vulgar ostentatious church – it all captures the essence of the play. The very ordinariness of the teen-aged DiCaprio and Danes make their love story all the more poignant. No matter what accolades these two actors got in later roles neither of them will ever top their performances here. A pity that here too, as in other versions, Juliet’s best monolog before taking the poison, is cut. Otherwise, Shakespeare’s immortal script, spoken accurately in twentieth century tones, keeps pace and overrides the flashiness.
       I could go on and on but will only add that the choice of music, especially ‘When Doves Cry’ is a touch of mastery.
       An absolute must for anyone professing a love of Shakespeare.

9* of 10

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