Romeo and Juliet, arguably, William Shakespeare’s most popular play returns to the screen this year. This time, this production will be in a traditional setting and with an age appropriate leading lady. Academy Award nominee Hailee Steinfeld was just 14 years old when she filmed the role. It will be interesting to see what that aspect will bring to the story. Many times the sexual nature of the Juliet character is played up, as was the case in Franco Zeffirelli’s classic 1968 version, which even featured nudity from the 15 year old Olivia Hussey. Or in the updated 1996 version, Romeo + Juliet by Baz Luhrmann, which was cleverly influenced by the MTV generation and featured appropriately lust-filled teenage portrayals by Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio. At only 14 years old Steinfeld’s Juliet will likely lean less on the sexual nature of the role and more on the classic theme of true and “mature beyond years” legitimate love.
Rounding out the cast is Paul Giamatti as Friar Lawrence and Emmy award winner Damian Lewis as Lord Capulet.
Based on the trailer the production value of the film looks impressive and the actors seem well cast and seem to be very comfortable with the language. It will be interesting to see how audiences respond to the film. Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation is still fresh in audiences mind and this traditional telling may come off as stuffy in light of that groundbreaking film version. Also the Academy Award winning film Shakespeare in Love featured performances of the roles by actors with unmatched chemistry in the roles. Even though it was done in a play within a play format. Personally, I’m hoping that this new version becomes the definitive version. I really enjoyed the work of Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit and screenwriter Julian Fellowes is enjoying a successful run as the show runner of the immensely popular and critically acclaimed Downton Abbey.This production definitely has the pedigree for greatness. Let’s hope that it is able to execute.
Romeo and Juliet stars Hailee Steinfeld as Juliet, Douglas Booth as Romeo, Damian Lewis, Paul Giamatti, Kodi Smit-Mcphee, Natascha McElhone, Christian Cooke and Stellan Skarsgard. The film is directed by Carlo Carlei with a screenplay by Julian Fellowes, based on the play by William Shakespeare.