“Slow moving and staid, this will leave you longing for Luhrman’s energy and Zefferelli’s sense of sweep.” – Empire
“Director Baz Luhrmann’s whirling dervish adaptation of the classic tale of “Romeo + Juliet” is replete with glowing surfaces, quick-cutting action, and a soundtrack that bites.” – Common Sense Media
“Ultimately, no matter how many innovative and unconventional flourishes it applies, the success of any adaptation of a Shakespeare play is determined by two factors: the competence of the director and the ability of the main cast members. Luhrmann, Danes, and DiCaprio place this Romeo and Juliet in capable hands.” – James Berardinelli
The 1996 adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic tale about warring families and star-crossed lovers was a commercial success – largely among the youth of the time. Under the direction of Baz Luhrmann, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes as the titular characters Rome and Juliet, respectively, the film made a solid, obvious effort to keep the film up to date and interesting for its target audience.
Set in contemporary Verona Beach, the movie depicts the Montagues and Capulets as warring mafia families, with Romeo and Juliet caught in the crossfire. This fresh remaking of a classic script, with the use of appealing and attractive young actors to set the mood, was definitely considered by many viewers and critics alike to be a solid effort in keeping the classic current. Many considered this a brave move from Luhrmann.
Receiving mostly positive to mixed reviews, the film was undoubtedly a success among its target audience. It received a multitude of well-deserved awards and to this day, it remains as a kind of classic– viewed and enjoyed by viewers of all ages.
The Leo DiCaprio and Clare Danes version of Shakespeare’s old love story is popular for a reason – and that is, because it’s an easy-to-chew, young and incredibly attractive version of the play. It’s set in Verona Beach, California, which is trendy enough, and features an alluring soundtrack and a handful of new twists that were not part of the original version of the story. I am not saying this is a bad thing, absolutely not – in fact, I have heard many accounts from young people saying that they finally understood the story of Romeo and Juliet through this movie.