Romeo + Juliet

  • Directed by Baz Luhrmann
  • United States, 1996, 120 mins., English

Baz Luhrmann’s kinetic, modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet redefined the Bard for a generation of kids who came of age in the late ’90s. Relocating the play’s setting from Verona, Italy to the fictitious, crumbling coastal city of Verona Beach, Luhrmann imagines a world in which the Montagues and Capulets are warring mafia families, Mercutio performs a drag number at the Capulets’ ball and the “civil brawls” of the play’s opening are followed on live television. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio (at the height of his ’90s heartthrob fame) and Claire Danes as the titular star-crossed lovers and featuring a hit-packed soundtrack from bands such as Radiohead, Garbage, Butthole Surfers and The Cardigans, Romeo + Juliet thumbs its nose at traditional stodgy Shakespearian convention, opting instead for an urgent, manic energy that plays out as half-MTV music video, half-fever dream. “A vision that is bold, brassy, hugely inventive and accessible and, in a strange way, just right.”—Empire.

Genres: Romance