Romeo + Juliet (1996)


Critic Consensus: Baz Luhrmann's visual aesthetic is as divisive as it is fresh and inventive.


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Movie Info

The classic Shakespearean romantic tragedy is updated by director Baz Luhrmann to a post-modern Verona Beach where swords are merely a brand of gun and bored youths are easily spurred toward violence. Longtime rivals in religion and business, the Montagues and the Capulets share a page from the Jets and Sharks of West Side Story when they form rival gangs. Romeo (Leonardo DiCaprio) is aloof toward the goings-on of his Montague cousins, but after he realizes that Juliet (Claire Danes) is a Capulet at the end of one very wild party, the enmity between the two clans becomes the root of his angst. He relies heavily -- and with serious consequences -- on his rebel gender-bender of a friend, Mercutio (Harold Perrineau Jr.), and Father (not Friar) Lawrence (Pete Postlethwaite) for protection and support. Romeo is, of course, exiled, and it looks like Juliet will be forced into an arranged marriage with the bland Paris (Paul Rudd). It ends, as Romeo and Juliet must, when Romeo hears a tragic piece of misinformation and brings his suicide wish to what was meant to be Juliet 's temporary tomb. This time, though, the turf and the weapon of choice have taken a turn toward the surreal. ~ Tracie Cooper, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for Romeo + Juliet

All Critics (63) | Top Critics (17)

A slick blast of ''decadence,'' the kind of violent swank-trash music video that may make you feel like reaching for the remote control.

Jul 6, 2010 | Rating: C+ | Full Review…

Doesn't approach the emotional resonance of Franco Zeffirelli's immensely popular 1968 screen version.

Jun 11, 2008
Top Critic

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.

Feb 9, 2006 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

Where is the audience willing to watch a classic play thrown in the path of a subway train?

May 20, 2003

Puts Shakespeare's greatest romance in a choke-hold and takes it slam-dancing.

Aug 28, 2002 | Rating: 1.5/5 | Full Review…

A monumental disaster.

Jun 18, 2002 | Rating: 0/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Romeo + Juliet

Excellent modern adaptation of Romeo & Juliet. I love the vibrant colours, costumes and soundtrack. I'm also very impressed with the use of ole English. Leo and Claire make a good on screen couple. As usual Leo's character dies. It seems to be a recurring event, but then R&J is a tragedy. Leo is the greatest tragic hero.

Candy Rose
Candy Rose

Super Reviewer

A fresh, very enjoyable and engrosing adaptation of Shakespeare's classic play. DiCaprio and Danes are excellent.

Liam Gadd
Liam Gadd

Super Reviewer


Romeo: Did my heart love 'til now? Forswear its sight. For I never saw true beauty 'til this night.  "The Classic Love Story Set In Our Time"  I found little enjoyment in this modern Romeo and Juliet. Its style was really annoying and left my head aching. This movie boarders on unwatchable. Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio are okay, but they don't give amazing performances. Nothing about it worked. The film was way too busy and could have possibly worked if Luhrmann had went for a more subtle approach.  I probably went into this with too high of expectations, which were completely crushed by the first 10 minutes of the movie. In a different directors hands, this could have possibly worked. In Luhrmann's, it is a complete mess and a waste of time.

Melvin White
Melvin White

Super Reviewer


I don't usually like Baz Luhrmann's aesthetic (too noisy), but it just works here, alongside this improbable classic story with the cuh-razy Shakespearean dialogue. This is my favorite, favorite adaptation of the story: fairy lights, fireworks glittering in the night sky, multicolored California bleached to its rawest and most potent, Mercutio the fabulous drag queen, and Leo's beautiful beautiful face peering into the translucent aquarium (no wonder Claire Danes practically orgasms in the pool).

Jennifer Xu
Jennifer Xu

Super Reviewer

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