Reviewed by: Ken James
If it’s true that every generation has its version of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”, this one is certainly that of the MTV generation. With an overabundance of up-close-and-personal shots and lighting-speed camera movements, this shallow in-your-face adaptation is unique, to say the least.
The setting takes us to the surrealistic/futuristic city of “Verona Beach,” a take-off of the initial setting of Verona. While the words to this story are the very same as those penned by Shakespeare centuries ago, we are slapped into a pseudo present day culture complete with gun-toting youth, gang warfare, cross-dressing, violence, domestic abuse, sensuality, and an overall disregard for anything sacred. Ironically, religion overshadows the entire film. Filmed in Mexico City, the crucifix or the virgin Mary are pictured in nearly every shot throughout the film. On the bright side, profanity is non-existent (a nice change from most Hollywood productions) and Romeo and Juliet are joined in matrimony by Friar Laurence before engaging in any passion beyond lip-locking.
When faced with this present day scenario to this age-old story, one’s perspective can be altered to see nothing more than two young teens believing that their love runs so deep they must be together forever. Is this truly a story of love, or of young lust? And why should suicide be elevated as it is in this tragic story (hopefully enough of us are familiar with this play to know the story and the ending!). While I appreciated very little of this excessive film, others I knew enjoyed it… why I cannot say.