Bard at the Box Office

Shakespeare in the 21st Century

Romeo + Juliet with Leonardo DiCaprio: Anachronism Gone Bad

Ugh, terrible movie. At least Leo's cute? Image courtesy of

Ugh, terrible movie. At least Leo’s cute?
Image courtesy of

This morning did not start out well for me. I woke up at 5:30, and decided that I might as well start work on watching a movie for the blog. So what do I do? I get on Netflix and choose the movie that looks like the most intriguing. Being a 90’s girl, I naturally gravitated towards the movie that starred Leonardo DiCaprio. 

That was a mistake.

Leonardo was still in his fledgling stages as an actor, and I have a feeling that much of his performance in this film was due to the director’s instructions, rather than his own deficiencies as an actor.

This particular movie sets up the Montagues and Capulets as something between street gangs and white collar corporations. When it opens, the Montagues and Capulets face off in front of a gas station (and not one of the clean, nice ones, either), and when they speak of ‘swords,’ they are actually referring to the model of their guns (heh, yeah, not my particular sense of humor).

It does not get any better from there. The fish tank scene waaaay too drawn out, (as in, it felt like an eternity for them to just catch each other’s eye) and the director used far too many ‘sped up camera speed’ clips, as though a particular scene were supposed to be funny, but in reality, it just felt like there was no rhyme or reason to when these happened.

All in all, I wound up having to turn off the movie before it finished to keep my eyes (and brain) from bleeding. I would never recommend this movie to anyone, unless they had truly gotten themselves on my “I absolutely hate this person” list (a list which is remarkably short).

All in all, this movie gets a 1/5.

They did try to stay true to the script from Shakespeare’s time, but it felt woefully out of place, and didn’t blend with the setting nearly as well as it could have.

The only thing saving this movie from getting a 0/5 is that the fireworks were pretty cool. I swear, somewhere there is a cave painting of my ancestors gathered around a fire with open mouths. In my family, we have a longstanding tradition of pyromania.

However, even with awesome fireworks, this movie is definitely not worth your time.

What has been your worst experience with Shakespeare adaptations? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!


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