Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Big Screen Angst: Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet

Romeo Romeo. Arguably the original angsty. Sure, Oedipus was sort of unlucky and Aeneas had his fair share of woes, but nobody, nobody, was as damn emo as dear dear Romeo. 

Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo Montague in Baz Luhrmann Romeo + Juliet Shakespeare 
Baz Lurhmann's Romeo + Juliet is a bit of a mess. The dialogue is often rushed and robotic (which is like THE sin in Shakespeare), modernity destroys a lot of the logic (why in God's name would Romeo use poison?), and Bazzy picked and chose seemingly at random where to hack up the story (congrats, Paris, you get to live!) But I was a pre-teen when this came out so none of that mattered. All that mattered was that Leonardo DiCaprio was a total dreamboat.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo Montague in Baz Luhrmann Romeo + Juliet Shakespeare 
That hair. Those eyes. That non-threatening physique that young girls love so much. If nothing else, he definitely looked the part.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo Montague in Baz Luhrmann Romeo + Juliet Shakespeare 
Watching this as adult, sure I cringe when a billboard with "Merchant of Verona!" wooshes by in music video fashion. But when Romeo and Juliet are frolicking around being so. damn. cute. I still feel all swoony inside.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo Montague in Baz Luhrmann Romeo + Juliet Shakespeare 
So Romeo. When we meet him, he's hanging out in his bedroom, curtains drawn, pretending to be a vampire because Rosaline wants to be a nun. (Or alone on a beach at sunrise?) Romeo had his heart set on how adorable Romeo and Rosaline Montague would have looked on all their stationary. But alas.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo Montague in Baz Luhrmann Romeo + Juliet Shakespeare 
So he goes out to this wild costume party at the Capulet house and mopes around. Actually, in this version, he doesn't really mope. They oh-so-cleverly interpret Queen Mab as ecstasy. So there's a whole extra layer of shallowness to his falling in love with Juliet. Sa-weet!

Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo Montague and Claire Danes as Juliet Capulet in Baz Luhrmann Romeo + Juliet 
They stare at each other through the trippy fish tank and then Romeo gets with the wooing. Yeah, they sound redonk delivering the holy palmers speech, but again, they're incredibly attractive and have lots of chemistry. So I forgive them.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo Montague and Claire Danes as Juliet Capulet in Baz Luhrmann Romeo + Juliet
Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo Montague and Claire Danes as Juliet Capulet in Baz Luhrmann Romeo + Juliet 
And the smooching! There's lots of smooching in this R&J. And it's lovely.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo Montague kiss and Claire Danes as Juliet Capulet in Baz Luhrmann Romeo + Juliet 
Then we move outside for the balcony scene. Don't ya'll miss young Leonardo DiCaprio!? He was so spritely and pretty. I'm sure he loves being called spritely and pretty. And I'm sure that's why he now looks about 200 lightyears away from either spritely or pretty. Sigh. Such is life.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo Montague in Baz Luhrmann Romeo + Juliet Shakespeare 
Back to Romeo. He's already SO in love with Juliet that he doesn't give a good gosh darn that she's the daughter of his father's mortal enemy. I don't think Romeo actually has a single scene with his father in this version, and considering Juliet's father practically beats her, I don't quite understand why they need the whole suicide rouse in the first place. Just run away! But no. That was one rewrite even BL wouldn't dare make.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo Montague and Claire Danes as Juliet Capulet in Baz Luhrmann Romeo + Juliet 
Like any young couple in love, they make out in a swimming pool, both totally clothed. When I was a wee lass, I found this scene terribly romantic. I have to admit, this time I was so consioucs of how horribly uncomfortable it would be to swim in a knight costume. That fake chainmail stuff getting all soggy? Ick.

Leonardo DiCaprio Romeo Montague and Claire Danes Juliet Capulet kiss balcony in Baz Luhrmann Romeo + Juliet 
Anywho, they kiss and it's all very lovely. And then Romeo heads on over to the nutty priest's house to ask the guy to marry them, like you do after one date. This one is definitely a difficult sell for the modern-times thing we've got going on. But whatever. So is the language, I guess.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo Montague in Baz Luhrmann Romeo + Juliet Shakespeare 
The preist says yes and one weird musical montage later, they're married.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo Montague and Claire Danes as Juliet Capulet in Baz Luhrmann Romeo + Juliet 
 Then Romeo heads over to the beach where his gang is hanging around. Tybalt shows up and is all "Let's fight!" and Romeo is all "I won't fight. But I can't tell you why." And his gang is all "Stop being a pussy!" Then they sort of fight anyway and Mercutio dies. Because that's basically what Mercutio is for. I'd like to have a dog one day named Mercutio. I'd also sort of like to have a dog named Gatsby. Baz Luhrmann makes movies from the literature with the best potential dog names. I could have one named Toulouse too. Complete the trifecta...

Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo Montague shoot Tybalt in Baz Luhrmann Romeo + Juliet Shakespeare 
Anyway. Romeo slays Tybalt and then whines about it for a while because he knows it was a really really bad idea. Fortune's fool indeed.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo Montague in Baz Luhrmann Romeo + Juliet Shakespeare 
This is more of him whining about it. Although - technically he's whining about the fact that he's the cause of Juliet being off screen whining about it. I mean really. Does anyone buy that Claire Danes and John Leguizamo are from the same gene pool?

Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo Montague cries in Baz Luhrmann Romeo + Juliet Shakespeare 
Whatever. Then Romeo goes to Juliet's house for some hugs and comfort. Undressing wounded Romeo might be the sexiest moment of the film. That's only half his face down there vvv and it's still pretty damn sexy.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo Montague in Baz Luhrmann Romeo + Juliet Shakespeare 
They consumate their relationship and lay around for a few minutes looking incredibly pale, incredibly skinny, and incredibly young. Perfect for the pre-teen crowd.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo Montague and Claire Danes as Juliet Capulet in Baz Luhrmann Romeo + Juliet in bed
Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo Montague and Claire Danes as Juliet Capulet in Baz Luhrmann Romeo + Juliet in bed
Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo Montague and Claire Danes as Juliet Capulet in Baz Luhrmann Romeo + Juliet in bed
And then Romeo is off. He's been bani-shed which is basically death according to him. The modern-day spin really screws with this concept too. Banished from where? From Verona? WTF IS Verona? A city? A county? "You cannot be in this county anymore!" "Cool, I'll be in Malibu if you need me..."

Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo Montague in Baz Luhrmann Romeo + Juliet Shakespeare 
Then he finds out Juliet is dead because Jesse Bradford is an idiot. Hey, Romeo - why not stop by the priest's house on your way to pick up your poison? No? You sure? Okay...

Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo Montague in Baz Luhrmann Romeo + Juliet Shakespeare 
So he heads off to church and sees Juliet lying there looking totally alive. It is a damn good thing they didn't, you know, try to embalm her or something modern like that.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo Montague in Baz Luhrmann Romeo + Juliet Shakespeare 
Romeo recites a few portions of his final monologue in front of some giant neon crosses and then downs the poison. Poor fella.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo Montague in Baz Luhrmann Romeo + Juliet Shakespeare 
He dies (like Leonardo DiCaprio tends to do in movies) and Juliet is like, "Holy hell! This was NOT the way this was supposed to go. Oh, hey. A gun." BLAM.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo Montague dies kills himself in Baz Luhrmann Romeo + Juliet Shakespeare 
Never was there a tale of more woe. Except - you know - the actual tale where all of these plot points actually made sense and a whole bunch of extra people die. That tale had more woe. But less Leonardo DiCaprio and fewer moments of him being sexy.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo Montague and Claire Danes as Juliet Capulet die in Baz Luhrmann Romeo + Juliet 
They're dead. The story's over. It was angsty. It was sexy. It was silly. A good time was had by all. Oh young Leo, I miss you so. I hope you're good in Gatsby!

4 comments:

  1. LOVE, love, love this angst report! I adored this movie when it came out for many reasons, but mostly Leo. :) Thank you for taking me back to my younger days, and for giving me a good chuckle!

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  2. "They oh-so-cleverly interpret Queen Mab as ecstasy. So there's a whole extra layer of shallowness to his falling in love with Juliet. Sa-weet!"

    In my defence, I haven't watched this since I was a kid, but you've only just made me realise that Romeo is 'coming up' when he sees Juliet. I need to watch this again with my adult eyes!

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  3. he was a dark angel on earth, awesome and great

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  4. Everything you said is so incredibly true :D ❤

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