Most romantic film #45: Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet (1996)

This most recent version is another favorite.

I talked about the 1968 version directed by Franco Zefferelli last week. Everyone has their favorite R&J, but I do like Luhrmann’s take on Shakespeare very much. In part because he keeps the verse but boldly re-sets the play to present-day (1990s) “Verona Beach.”

The stars of this version are Leonardo Di Caprio and Claire Danes.

They are backed up by a solid (if occasionally scene-chewing) supporting cast. John Leguizamo and Harold Perrineau as Tybalt and Mercutio, respectively, are excellent. The opening fight between the “boyz” from the two families captures the out-of-control violence that is behind the love story, setting the temperature perfectly.

If you liked Moulin Rouge, I think you’d like this. I love that Luhrmann boldly uses contemporary settings and modern technology (TV news)against an operatic score and the play’s strong verse. And Di Caprio and Danes carry it all off, in my opinion. They too are young, like the 1968 actors, although not quite as young.


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