ROMEO AND JULIET (D Films, 2013) D: Carlo Carlei, w/ Hailee Steinfeld, Douglas Booth. Rating: NNN; Blu-ray package: NN Rating: NNN
This version of the world's best-known and arguably greatest love story has been designed as pure entertainment, and it works pretty well.
Shakespeare's tale of the forbidden love of a boy and girl from feuding families has been judiciously pared down with an eye to clarity by Downton Abbey writer Julian Fellowes. Director Carlo Carlei provides sumptuous settings and costumes and keeps up the pace with plenty of sword fights, an ever-moving camera and a clever score that layers romantic airiness over a thriller's drive.
Douglas Booth, as Romeo, has the edge on Hailee Steinfeld's Juliet for both passion and a grip on the language, although she has a quiet way of suggesting that puberty hasn't kicked in until the moment she meets him. But the richest performances are Paul Giamatti's as Friar Laurence and Leslie Manville's as the Nurse.
Strangely, the actors and Fellowes have little to say in the extras. Instead, the four three-minute promo spots concentrate on the crew's goals and approaches.
EXTRAS Four making-of mini-docs. English audio. English, Spanish subtitles.