Romeo + Juliet (1996) starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Claire Danes, John Leguizamo, Harold Perrineau directed by Baz Luhrmann Movie Review

Romeo + Juliet (1996)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Leonardo DiCaprio in Romeo + Juliet (1996)

Quentin! wherefore art thou Quentin

Where's Quentin Tarantino when you need him? That was the though which kept going through my head as I watched "Romeo + Juliet" because this screamed out for his touch. Now in fairness if it hadn't been for Baz Luhrmann's vision I would have never thought that but whilst Luhrmann delivers this interesting modern take on Shakespeare's classic "Romeo & Juliet" his concept is a novelty which for me wore off after 20 minutes which after that point became a chore.

So for those who haven't watched Luhrmann's "Romeo + Juliet" it is an interesting idea, set in a more modern, flamboyant world but keep the original dialogue. And as I said for the first twenty minutes it had me with this over stylized, snappy introduction scene at a filling station between the Capulets and the Montagues. These opening scenes had elements of style which reminded me of both Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez which held great promise but then after that Luhrmann's more flamboyant style starts to take over which is just as entertaining such as when we have Mercutio dressed in drag but not what I had wanted after that initial style which screamed excitement.

The style is a bit part of what makes Luhrmann's "Romeo + Juliet" so memorable and it is full of powerful cinematography with equally impressive sets from the theatre on the beach with the back blown out to the home of Juliet. And a lot of the style has a flamboyance about it which if the start reminded or the action of say "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" then the flamboyance made me think of "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert". That sounds a strange mix of styles and there is no doubt it is, for me the conflict between the two is too much but for others I know they love it.

I also know that there are those who adore Luhrmann's "Romeo + Juliet" because of the young looking, blue eyed Leonardo DiCaprio and whilst I am not Shakespeare buff what he brings to the role of Romeo is interesting and he makes him a character who constantly grabs your attention. But then in fairness do a lot of the performances be it Harold Perrineau as the very memorable Mercutio or Claire Danes who lights up the screen with such a beautiful and innocent smile.

But here is the snag, I never did "Romeo & Juliet" as school and whilst the novelty of the Bard's words being used in a more modern setting were initially intriguing the novelty soon wore off and from then on Luhrmann's "Romeo + Juliet" became a slog. Now I am sure for those who studied "Romeo & Juliet" the end result is more interesting than it is for those like me.

What this all boils down to is that Luhrmann's "Romeo + Juliet" is a good idea with some nice style elements and some good performances but for me the novelty of the original dialogue used in a contemporary setting didn't do it for me as after the novelty wore off I wanted something more.