Monday, October 25, 2010

Film Yap: Romeo + Juliet

I hate Romeo + Juliet. I’m not the biggest fan of Romeo and Juliet and separately can’t really stand Romeo, but I do see what he sees in Juliet. (Except for her being 13). The original Shakespeare play is questionable on plot, but delivers in some of the most romantic and inspiring combination of words ever conceived. Baz Luhrmann thinks that’s stupid and makes a movie that’s all about HIM HIM HIM.

This movie is so bad on every technical level it could be seen as a parody. Yes, a modern day version of Romeo and Juliet is not a bad idea. West Side Story pulled it off with great success and even fixed some of its flaws. (Aka abandon Roseline). Luhrmann placed the play in modern times but decided to keep its original dialog with disastrous effects. First off, it creates an incredible disconnect but also it neglects most of the surface meanings of the dialog. Being insulting by someone biting their thumb seems ridiculous when they have loaded guns. Also the Prince just giving a verbal warning seems silly when they blew up an entire gas station.

This is, of course, pretending that Luhrmann even wishes you to listen to what is being said. He is using every device he can in order to distract you. Moulin Rouge is a Woody Allen film compared to the insane editing in this. The prologue is repeated so many nauseating times from different patterns it is as if Luhrmann not only wants you to hate his film, but to retrospectively hate Shakespeare as well. The only time the camera isn’t going all over the place is when two characters are silent. Indeed, why focus on the emotional depth between Romeo and Juliet when it could just be about how the other thinks they’re pretty. Also the balcony scene is turned into a swim in the pool. For it’s not about Romeo sees Juliet as a figure on high and wishes to bring himself to her level of glory. It’s about them being pretty.

Even if it were possible to hear the words it wouldn’t matter. Luhrmann picked the worst actors to deliver dialog they clearly don’t understand. Leonardo DiCaprio became one of the better actors of the 2000s, but in the 90s he was a bit hammy. He doesn’t sell any of the dialog because it looks like he has no idea what’s going on. Then again I’m sure his direction was “You’re in love! Be in love!” Even when it’s interpreted that Shakespeare is actually judging Romeo on some of his unearned love, Luhrmann still shoots it like an Abercrombie and Finch ad.

Claire Danes isn’t terrible in this film but just about everyone else is. Her cousin is played by John Leguizamo because of course he is. Harold Perrineau, Paul Rudd, and Jamie Kennedy just look embarrassed as they are screaming all of their lines, sometimes in drag.

I struggle to find any other film that fails on every single conceptual level, but this movie manages to pull it off.

On the new Blu-Ray there is a Picture-in-Picture Mode, raw footage, a featurette about the music of the movie, and a few more tidbits. They are fine unless you think the movie is one of the worst films ever created.

Film: 0 Yaps

Extras: 2 Yaps

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