Romeo + Juliet – In fair Verona, Romeo Montague falls in love with Juliet Capulet. Their only problem? Their feuding families hate each other to a murderous degree. The pair try to power through with secrets and some sympathetic allies but a love so powerful between two star cross’d lovers cannot burn bright for long.

Romeo + Juliet (1996) – Director: Baz Luhrmann

Is Romeo + Juliet appropriate for kids?

Rating: 12

Running Length: 120 mins

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Claire Danes, John Leguizamo

Genre: Drama, Romance

REVIEW: ‘ROMEO + JULIET’

Is there a better known love story than William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet? It’s doubtful and with Baz Luhrmann at the helm, this adaptation was never going to be anything other than big, bold and ridiculously over-the-top. Set in a modern world of guns, loud shirts and trendy hairstyles, the original script remains intact giving the whole story a twist that works and allows modern audiences the opportunity to understand the old text that is difficult to comprehend without intense study!

During the height of his heartthrob years, Leonardo DiCarpio of course played Romeo, a hot-headed but sensitive young man who falls head-over-heels-in-love-at-first-sight for the sweet, unassuming Juliet (played by Claire Danes). The pair are excellent as the eponymous leads with DiCaprio putting his all into capturing the over-the-top nature of teenage love without ever coming across as a ham. Danes gives a more subdued performance but carries the role well and is never overshadowed by her co-star. Harold Perrineau steals the show as Romeo’s larger-than-life best friend Mercutio – you are bound never to forget the all too few scenes he is in and John Leguizamo adds an excellent layer of tension to Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin who hates Romeo purely because of the family feud. Of course, acting royalty, Miriam Margolyes and the late Pete Poselthwaite add extra clout as the main pair’s allies.

Some may not engage with Luhrmann’s frenetic style and it certainly takes a good 15 minutes to calm down enough to the let audience breathe and catch up on what’s happening but ‘Romeo + Juliet’ will be a sure-fire hit for anyone who enjoys a punchy, dynamic adaptation of a done-to-death Olde English play.

CONTENT: IS ‘ROMEO + JULIET’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?

The first scene of the movie describes some of the things to come include ‘two star cross’d lovers’ who ‘take their own lives’.

A group of young men act like delinquents at a fuel station, waving guns around and intimidating other people who are there. One of them has an open shirt, revealing his bare torso, he holds one of his nipples and licks it in order to upset some nuns and schoolchildren who are watching him. This soon becomes ever more tense when another group of young men arrive; it is clear the two groups hate each other and those who were there first are afraid of the others. They all soon begin to brandish their guns as a show of strength and culminates with one of them pointing a gun at the head of a boy of around 9 years old and saying ‘bang!’, the boy is terrified but otherwise unharmed. When one group makes a hasty exit, one of the other group gets one of them in the sights of his gun and shoots, the young man is seen to lurch at the apparent wound and collapses down into the car.

A woman runs around her home wearing lingerie and a dressing gown which is open, she is panicking and doesn’t realise her state of undress, she looks down and sees her exposure, gasps in surprise and quickly closes her dressing gown.

A man attends a fancy dress party in full drag. He wears a short-cropped top, mini skirt, lipstick and high heels. At one point he makes a joke of his outfit but raising the skirt a little to reveal a small amount of bare buttock; he also pretends to do a magic trick by pulling an invitation to the party from between his legs. It is clear that he loves being the centre of attention and at one point performs a song and does several high kicks, however the camera doesn’t show anything revealing and the crowds watching do not appear overly shocked.

Romeo is given a pill with a heart on it by one of his cohorts before the above mentioned party. This isn’t mentioned again until towards the end of the scene where Romeo takes the pill and ingests it. He becomes disoriented by a drug-induced haze and the filming gets a bit psychedelic and trippy. This lasts for around one minute and is never mentioned again, no other character is seen to take recreational drugs.

A fist-fight breaks out among several characters who hate each other. One initially tries to make peace but is beaten severely and blood is seen around his mouth. Another character steps into help his friend and after a brawl, a character is stabbed. At first, the others think it isn’t a bad wound but the victim is aware of his impending demise and makes a joke saying ‘ask for me tomorrow and you will find me a grave man!’ and ‘they have made worm’s meat out of me’. When he dies, his friend embraces him and is devastated; the man who stabbed him clearly didn’t mean to do so much harm but was caught up in the anger of the moment. The friend of the dead man becomes incensed and dangerously chases the killer and exacts his revenge without considering the consequences.

Romeo sneaks into Juliet’s bedroom and begin to kiss passionately and remove each others’ clothes, Juliet’s bare back is shown and the scene ends before anything graphic is seen; the next scene opens with the pair holding each other the next morning. Although the two are both young, they are already married at this point and are acting as husband and wife. Although parents may be concerned with the message of young marriage and teens sneaking around behind their parents’ backs.

When Juliet is facing marrying another man who her parents have chosen for her, she becomes distressed and angry, going to the monk who is her friend and due to what appears to be a hopeless situation for her, she points a gun at her own head. The monk talks her down with a plan to trick everyone into thinking she is dead by taking a potion that appears to cause death but she will simply be in a deep, coma-like sleep.

A major character shoots themselves in the head when a loved one dies tragically. The camera is far enough away that although the gunshot happens on-screen, nothing is seen. The more close up camera shot shows some blood but this is not gory.

CAN I SEE A CLIP?
VERDICT: IS ‘ROMEO + JULIET’ FOR KIDS?

‘Romeo + Juliet’ has certainly breathed a breath of fresh air into a somewhat overdone story and with a great cast to carry the oft hard to understand dialogue, Baz Luhrmann’s unique and confident style lends itself well to a play that is so well-known and beloved by so many. Due to some sexual content and violence, we feel this movie should be suitable for kids aged 10 and over.

  • Violence: 2/5
  • Emotional Distress: 2/5
  • Fear Factor: 1/5 (some tension between characters)
  • Sexual Content: 2/5 (a woman wearing a tight, short dress dances provocatively in front of a man who stands a few feet in front of her. A character says ‘why is my pump well flowered’, grabbing his crotch and thrusting it to emphasis the word ‘pump’)
  • Bad Language: 0/5
  • Dialogue: 2/5 (some mild references to suicide, physical love, drug taking, death and violence.
  • Other Notes: Deal with themes of intense teenage love, defying society and your parents, desperation, the consequences feuding, loyalty, betrayal, murder, hatred, suicide and fate.

Words by Laura Record

Romeo & Juliet (Blu Ray) [Blu-ray] [2011]


New From: £10.97 GBP In Stock

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