'Romeo and Juliet' tells the classic tale of two separate rival houses, The Capulet and The Montague, who have, for many centuries, loathed the other. But during a party set up by Lord Capulet (Damian Lewis), that of Romeo (Douglas Booth) and Juliet (Hailee Steinfeld) meet and fall in love at first sight. The thing is both of them are from separate houses, and that is socially not done.
This film basically makes it known that Hollywood is at a standstill. New stories are not being produced and instead studios have to make use of stories that have been told over and over again, and one of those very stories is that of the lovers 'Romeo and Juliet'.
The problem with this adaption is it's pretty lifeless. We all know the tale and the ultimate fate of our leads but the way the story is told is what is supposed to keep us attached, make us love the characters and eventually make you tear up in the final minutes of the film. But we do not. The film is painfully dull and too soapy to be entertaining and attention grabbing.
The script doesn't take it's time to look at what it has in front of it, it spits out chunk after chunk of Shakespeare's dialogue but it all comes out clunky and eyebrow raising to the audience's ears. When adapting a classic, you must adapt it to the period presented. Sure, that dialogue works, but it's hard to comprehend for average viewers. Not to mention the script is way too melodramatic and soapy for comfort.
The thing that makes 'Romeo and Juliet' even the slightest bit watchable is its set's. The sets are beautiful and well crafted for the time period. They suit the film in looking the period, as well as making the film feel more or less real.
Our leads are convincing but no more than average. 'Hailee Steinfeld' through very talented, was not able to overcome her stiff dialogue and 'Douglas Booth' just could've been given better material than what he was, maybe if he'd been given something to work with, his performance might not have came off so wooden. One must also note the age differences between the two leads, however accurate; it does come off as very uncomfortable to watch as the two fall in love and very distracting.
The film also runs at an unbearable length of 2 hours. With a total lack of editing, the film slowly becomes unmanageable. You get lost among the long lines of melodramatic Shakespeare dialogue that could've been lessened to a few snippets per. There's just too much talking and not enough action to suit the length.
All and all, I wanted to like 'Romeo and Juliet'. Its set's are beautiful and however distracting and uncomfortable, leads Steinfeld and Booth are mostly convincing but the dull script proves the fatal poison. It gave the cast wooden dialogue, and provided a sense of soupy melodrama that drugs the entire 2 hour film for a painful experience. D 6/8/14
'Romeo and Juliet' is rated PG-13 for some violence and thematic elements. It's appropriate for teenagers and up.