Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
USA, 1996. Bazmark Films, Twentieth Century Fox. Screenplay by Baz Luhrmann, Craig Pearce, based on the play by William Shakespeare. Cinematography by Donald McAlpine. Produced by Baz Luhrmann, Gabriella Martinelli. Music by Nellee Hooper. Production Design by Catherine Martin. Costume Design by Kym Barrett. Film Editing by Jill Bilcock. European Film Awards 1997.
Baz Luhrmann applies MTV music-video editing techniques to a classic play and comes out with an over-directed bore that is perked up by its few musical sequences but feels labored the rest of the time. Leonardo DiCaprio makes for a grating Romeo, while Claire Danes is only slightly better as a wide-eyed and unsuspecting Juliet in this tale of two young lovers thwarted by their two families being at war with each other. Transferring the setting from seventeenth-century Verona to modern-day Venice Beach, California is a deliciously wry idea, with opposing family members touting guns and other harmful weapons while spouting Shakespeare’s original dialogue. Unfortunately, Luhrmann makes everything go so annoyingly fast and keeps everything so ridiculously loud that any powerful moments are lost in the noise: fans of subtlety will definitely want to stay away.
Academy Award Nomination: Best Art Direction
Berlin Film Festival Awards: Best Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio); Alfred Bauer Prize