U.S., 1996, 120 min, 2K DCP, Dir. Baz Luhrmann, Rated PG-13, 20th Century Fox
“Luhrmann's gleefully cinematic version of the play is so relentlessly inventive and innovative, it takes 20 minutes to get a grasp on how appropriate is his approach to the material." – Geoff Andrew, Time Out
Baz Luhrmann and William Shakespeare are as perfect a match as, well, Romeo and Juliet. The Australian director, best known for his lavish costumes, eccentric set design, and penchant for music brought the Bard's most famous tragedy to the silver screen in 1996. Starring then-teenage heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio (a year before Titanic) and Claire Danes (coming off My So-Called Life) as the titular characters, Romeo + Juliet sets the scene in contemporary times but retains the original language. Luhrmann's stylistic flourishes accentuate this juxtaposition: the characters dress in a variety of brightly-colored outfits designed by Kym Barrett, best known for her later work on The Matrix and its sequels. Hawaiian shirts, Virgin Mary-embroidered bulletproof vests, Converse, a prim Gucci suit, and Glocks as flashy as the wardrobe are just a few of the integral components to Luhrmann's adaptation. The performances are just as loud and there's no better example than the ferociously scenery-chewing turns from John Leguizamo as Tybalt (Prince of Cats) and Harold Perrineau as Mercutio. All of this amounts to an adaptation of a 400-year old play that spoke to a generation full of heartbreak and, let's face it, a ton of angst.
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