Romeo and Juliet (2013) {review}

[Note:  Keep in mind that this review is written from the perspective of someone who has never actually read Romeo and Juliet, m'kay?:)  Also, there'll be spoilers, because, I mean…all things considered, you probably know how it all ends.]

I first became seriously interested in watching this movie a) because of the utter gorgeousness of all the stills I saw on the Internet, and b) because it has Hailee Steinfeld.  I'd only seen her in True Grit (2011), but, I thought, wouldn't it be cool to see her in a completely different role?

So, yesterday, I watched it.  And…I'm not quite sure what I think of it.

First things first.  This movie was beautiful.  It was one of those films where you think, "I want just about this entire movie in screencaps."  The cinematography was excellent.  The lighting, the camera angles, the costumes and sets…aaaaaaahhhhh.

See what I mean??

Hailee Steinfeld was absolutely precious as Juliet Capulet.  I think she perhaps delivered the most solid performance, followed by Paul Giamatti as Friar Lawrence or Ed Westwick as Tybalt.  But I'm not sure;)                           

Her Juliet was impetuous and and not-the-wisest, certainly, but, given that those are just characteristics of Juliet herself *ahem*, I think Hailee Steinfeld also brought out at least a modicum of maturity, and gave the impression of a sweet, agreeable, and loving personality.  I liked that they showed how she did genuinely care about other people besides Romeo (such as her nurse, her parents, even Tybalt)…just not enough to keep her from saying that she'd rather have all of them dead than her Romeo banished, or from blowing off the fact that her husband killed her cousin about a half hour after their marriage.  I also appreciated that she had at least a measure of common sense enough to make her stop and question, "Do we move too fast?", albeit that she did drop that little inkling of concern the moment her dashing lover waved it away.  At which point, by the by, you wanted to scream at them both, "YES!  YES, YOU ARE!  STOP AND THINK!"  But such an irregular display whilst in front of a computer is liable to incite speculation in one's family, and so I thought it best to refrain;)  

Douglas Booth's Romeo was a little, um…ditzy.  I really don't know how else to describe it.  As the lovelorn Romeo, I guess the complexity level of his performance wasn't exactly supposed to be through the roof, but still.  He was nice, don't get me wrong, but he was also, ya know…Romeo.  

…Okay, okay, I suppose that isn't all that fair.  The boy was sweet, and loyal, and did have a peacemaker's heart, I think.  He did try to stop the feuding, and he did attempt to refrain from fighting Tybalt and Paris at first.  But he was also a little inconstant, shall we say.  One moment fawning over Rosaline; the next moment, upon sighting Juliet, swearing that his love for the latter is deep as deep can be, pure, undying, eternal, blah-de-dah-de-dah.  In all fairness, though, Juliet was looking particularly lovely in her masked ba--except it wasn't a ball, was it?  It was a feast.  Juliet was looking particularly lovely in her masked feast outfit.  Behold:

(You can't see it very well, but her hair is absolutely GORGEOUS from the back.  There's this beautiful little coronet/cap/thing…)

…I WANT ALL OF HER OUTFITS, OKAY?!  You have to watch the movie to fully understand.  They are simply stunning.  All of them.  Even her nightdress.  

Speaking of the nightdress *ahem*, let's move on to content, yes?  

This movie is actually quite clean.  There is one sex scene, but it takes place after they are married, and it was very easy to skip, as it's fairly obvious when it's coming, and they give you time to hit the handy little fast-forward button.  From what I read, there also isn't really any nudity in that scene, except for Romeo's bare chest (which you'd already seen earlier in the movie).  But anyway.  There are also allusions to said wedding night, but nothing crass.  Apart from any sensuality, there are a number of sword fights, including some deaths whereat we see a fair amount of blood, but not really in a gory fashion.  And then, of course, assuming you know how the story of Romeo and Juliet ends, you know that there are two other deaths, as well, which aren't exactly bloody, but still disturbing.  More on that later.

The supporting cast were all very well-acted.  There were so many actors that looked soooo familiar, yet I couldn't place where I'd seen them.  That was frustrating:-/  Anyway, yes, all magnificent.  Like I said, Friar Lawrence and Tybalt were standouts, as were whoever played Romeo's friend and cousin, and Leslie Manville in the role of Juliet's nurse.  I know, right?!  Mrs. Hale in Romeo and Juliet!  That was a happy thing, seeing her:)  

Oh, oh, and the MUSIC!  Wow.  Suffice it to say, I was impressed.  Enough to convince me that I want to buy it (and not just one track, but possibly the entire thing).  Seriously, it was amazing.

One thing I find interesting is how Shakespeare, and consequently the makers of this movie, managed to make a story full of immensely unhealthy relationships (parent/child, lover/lover) engaging and compelling, even to a confirmed old bachelorette slightly cynical person such as myself (speaking in terms of romance, a relationship such as the one between Romeo and Juliet often incites criticism and protestations from me, such as "Seriously, y'all?  You literally just met a day ago, and you're getting married?").  

I think the major reason is because these two star-crossed lovers, though foolish and naïve, are just so darned sweet in their interactions.

Their love is too all-consuming, certainly, but at the same time, there is such a level of purity and devotion all too often lacking in modern relationships that you can't help but "root for them."  They, at least, understand the idiocy of senseless familial grudges that spill into bloodshed, and they strive to bring them to a close.

Which is part of why the end is so tragic.  It calls to my mind Isaiah 2:22:  "Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils.  Of what account is he?" (NIV)  It reminds one of how important it is to love, yes, but also to remember that you should never become so consumed with a person that you're willing to kill yourself as soon as that person dies.  

In fact, I think I read that Hailee Steinfeld said just such a thing, something like, "I understand why Juliet would do what she did, but I'm not sure that I would ever do something that drastic."  (It was something along that strain, at least.)

"Never was a tale of more woe, than Juliet and her Romeo."

~ ~ ~

And, just because we don't want to end on such a sad note, here's a little something I found on the Internet when looking up stills of this movie:


  1. Very nice review, Olivia. And I agree, the pictures are lovely.

    What's that you said about actors looking familiar but not being able to put your finger on who they are? That's exactly what I thought when I saw the picture of Romeo. He looks so familiar, but I have no idea if I've seen him in another movie or not.

    Aside from the tragic ending of the story (and the slightly inappropriate scene) would you consider this to be a good movie? I know, for myself, I've seen a lot of movies that are "interesting," but not so interesting that I would watch them over again. Would you watch this one a second time?

    ~Miss March

    1. Thanks, Miss March! Glad you enjoyed it!:) And oh, yes--THE PICTURES. There are several I didn't post, but ohhhh my goodness, I'm in love;)

      Yes, it's frustrating! Hmm, Douglas Booth--I know he acts in a version of "Great Expectations" and the new "Noah" movie, but other than that I'm not sure.

      Yes, I'd consider it a good movie. Ah, I get that. Yeah, I think I'd watch it again--a while from now, after I'd "recovered" a little;) I might even get the DVD, just because it IS so gorgeous, and because I did quite enjoy it. It's a good story, just sad. It's a good reminder to be cautious in relationships, that's for sure;) There were several precious, beautiful moments, and then there were some tragic ones that were still beautiful. So yes, I think I might watch it a second time eventually:)

    2. I really don't where I would have seen Douglas Booth. Most likely I have him mixed with someone entirely different! Funny how that works! :)

      I never heard of this movie till I read you review, but it looks rather interesting. Usually, I prefer happy endings, but if I know the ending is going to be sad--and I can prepare myself before hand--then it might not be too bad.

    3. Haha, I get that--I think that's what I was doing with the majority of the cast, confusing them with others!:)

      It's definitely interesting. If you're a Shakespeare purist, I'm not sure if you'll care for it, hehe, but otherwise it's very well-made and an engaging story. Oh, I know what you mean--happy endings are indubitably awesome, and they're generally the ones I prefer, too:) But yes, that's also kind of my philosophy--as long as I can prepare myself, I can decide whether or not I want to watch it. (That's why I like spoilers, hehe, usually. I like to be prepared;D )

    4. Oh, I'm definitely not a Shakespeare purist. Actually, I've never read Shakespeare. I always thought it would be boring, or too hard to I never tried it.

      Oh yes! Spoilers! I like spoilers. It's not that I don't like to be surprised, it's just that normally I'm too impatient to wait. Like with a TV show...if I'm unable to watch the next season I go and look up all the reviews just to satisfy my curiosity. :) And especially in the case of a movie that has a very bad ending, I think it's better to know before hand. That way you can enjoy the movie without being totally shattered by the ending.

    5. Hee, neither am I;) The only Shakespeare I've read is "The Taming of the Shrew," and I didn't really like that one. But I'll probably try some of his other works eventually--just to say I did, haha XD

      THANK YOU! You understand. Spoilers allow you to prepare yourself. Oooh, what TV shows are you into, just wondering?:)

    6. Well, the only current one I'm keeping up with right now is "Downton Abbey." There's a lot of things I don't like about that show, but I've gotten rather hooked on it just the same, and want to find out what happens. I also like "Larkrise to Candleford" and "All Creatures Great and Small." And then, of course, there's all those old TV shows like "The Andy Griffith Show," "The Dick Van Dyke Show," "The Donna Reed Show," "Hogan's Heroes"...the list is rather endless. TV shows are a lot of fun because they're so long, and you get to spend so much time with the characters. :)

    7. Gotcha! Yeah, that's a well-made show;) LRtC! I'm on the third season of that with my parents:D And DEFINITELY Andy Griffith! Yes, TV shows are great, precisely for that reason:)

  2. Ooooh! I haven't heard very much about this new version (except about Haillee Steinfeld being in it), so this was very interesting! I haven't read the play either, by the way. We can both be uncultured homeschoolers together. ;-P

    The pictures do look beautiful! *sniffle* My little Mattie Ross is all grown up. :-)

    Haha, I've seen memes on pinterest of that line, only the picture I saw was a black bear. It made me crack up ridiculously.

    Great review! Maybe I'll look out for this one, after I watch all the other 50 thousand movies on my to-see list...;-)


    1. Thanks! Yeah, it was fun to review;)

      Haha, yay! I'm glad there are others beside me;-P

      So. Beautiful. Yes, she was! There were a couple parts in the beginning that were especially aww-inducing, regarding her:)

      I know, right?! It's such an awesome meme; it works for so many different animals! XD I was laughing soooo hard when I found it. There were also a few others that I'll probably use in a later post that also made me crack up;D

      Thanks! Haha, sounds like a plan:)

  3. The richness of the colors and lighting make the movie almost appear like a fairytale. Since Julian Fellowes wrote the script, what did you think of the dialogue?

    All of the pictures (or should I say stills) are so beautiful!

    When I read the play, I felt similarly toward Romeo and Juliet. Actually I thought they were both daft, to fall in love with each other so completely that they would also die because of each other in a matter of days. I liked Juliet better than Romeo though. Juliet showed at least a little caution, whereas Romeo didn't. The way he went from mourning over Rosaline to falling head over heals for Juliet. I don't know what people would think of this, but sometimes I wonder if Romeo was really truly in love with Juliet. (buries head with shame for even thinking of the idea, but still wonders if it is possible)

    It would be so wonderful to step into Juliet's shoes just for the sake of wearing those gorgeous gowns! Her hair too, is just beautiful.

    I have seen the trailer to this version, and I knew that there probably was a sex scene, which is why I haven't seen this movie. I feel better with the idea of watching this movie knowing that the scene does not come all of a sudden.

    This was a wonderful review! I would just read it to look at the stills. :)

    1. Exactly! They really do. 'T'is just beautiful--and you're right, it IS like a fairytale in some ways:)

      The dialogue was pretty good. Very Shakespearean, but also relatively easy to follow.

      I knooooow right?! Haha, usually I call them pictures (even though they are stills), but this movie just seemed to lend itself more towards "stills" than "pictures." Really don't know why;-P

      Absolutely. They frankly act like teenagers with a crush...which, I suppose, they are. At the same time, though, the romantic in me is all fluttery and sigh-y because they ARE very, very sweet and cute together. Yeah, that's the impression I had, too--Juliet at least thinks of something other than her newfound love interest from time to time, and she was just more likeable to me in general:) I KNOW! That bugged me the most, I think--the fawning over Rosaline switching so quickly to the adoration of Juliet. Haha, that's a totally legitimate idea--was it actually love or just deep infatuation, on both parts? Hmm... Obviously, it was supposed to be love, I think, but a lot of it could possibly be attributed to teenage hormones, haha;) But on the other hand...they were so committed to each other that they married, and then killed themselves over each other...which does seen to suggest a deeper connection than a crush...I don't know.

      Oh, YES! I want to wear all of the outfits! And have my hair like that...siiiiiiigh.

      Yes, the sex scene was part of what deterred me at first, too, but then when I read that it took place after their marriage, I thought, "Okay, it's probably all right if I just skip it, but still be able to watch the movie." Great! No, it's definitely not one of those out-of-the-blue scenes. They give you a lot of time to prepare. He comes back to her at night, and after that she leads him into her room, and about there is a good time to start skipping.

      Thanks so much! Haha, I keep reading it to look at all the stills myself;D

  4. Wow, I didn't even realize that there was such a recent movie version of this play! I really enjoyed reading your review.

    I've never actually seen R&J, but I read the play for a college Shakespeare class last year, and we discussed it at great length. I agree with you on pretty much everything--it's a sweet love story, but it's not the "greatest love story of all time" because they're just so darn SILLY.

    And I'm not actually one of those people who believes love at first sight can never happen. I think it can be a real thing--occasionally--so I'm quite willing to believe Romeo and Juliet MAY have loved each other from the first moment they met. But even if they did, it's still a terrible idea to marry after knowing each other for just one day, because you can never be absolutely certain that you're experiencing love at first sight WHILE IT'S HAPPENING. You might just THINK you've fallen in love at first sight--like Anna in Frozen--and instead be making the biggest mistake of your life. You always have to wait and make sure first.

    And you're totally right--you should never make another person your "god" and say that if they're dead you have nothing more to live for. No. You ALWAYS have something--and Someone--to live for.

    1. Thanks, Jessica!:D

      Cool! I need to read it eventually... Exactly! Sweet, but not the ULTIMATE romance.

      Definitely! Love at first sight CAN happen--I'm just skeptical when it's overused. But yes, I think they might have loved each other from the first...basically, everything you said in that paragraph is true! Ooh, the Anna analogy is a great one!

      Amen! I mean, I can understand not WANTING to live anymore, but as Mr. Hamley says in "Wives and Daughters," "You have to go on living, all the appointed days," and trust that He will give you a new purpose.

    2. Exactly! In my current novel, there is a guy who falls in love with a girl at first sight . . . but I only do that because I think he's the sort of dude who WOULD fall in love at first sight. And the girl, on her side, doesn't fall for him right away, because she's NOT that sort of person. She's way more cautious and she's very shy, so it takes her a good long time.

    3. Oooh, that sounds intriguing! Your book certainly sounds really great:)

    4. Thanks so much! I really can't wait to finish it, but I have a lot more work to do :) If I can get it published someday, I'll be REALLY happy.

    5. Oh, I hope you can!:) Sounds great:D

  5. I grew up reading children's versions of Romeo and Juliet but I'd never actually had read the entire play until this year. It drove me crazy because they were SO immature and there was just so much ridiculous romance.

    1. Yep. And I don't think Shakespeare really intended it to be "the ultimate romance," either. I think he wrote it as a sort-of-sweet-sort-of-tragic story about two silly people.

    2. Lois, I'm sure it was a little annoying! They certainly are...hormonal;)

      Jessica, You're right, he probably didn't! Hee, yes--just a good story, whatever the motives, role modeling ability, or lack thereof;)

  6. I've become convinced that Shakespeare meant this to be a cautionary tale, as in, "Yo, don't be like these morons," but then teenage girls totally misinterpreted it to be more like, "Love is more important than life."

    And yes, Romeo is a ditz.

    1. Hahahaha, "Yo, don't be like these morons"-- XD Yes, there was most likely a definitively cautionary element to at least part of it.

      Yup. Sweet, but not exactly long on brain power.

  7. I really want to see this version and this review has consolidated that! :D Great Job Liv!

    1. Ooh, you should! It's beautiful:) And oh, thank you! I'm so glad you enjoyed it:D

  8. Romeo is the same guy that plays King Arthur in Merlin...which he played very awesomely. You really need to watch Merlin! I believe I watched this movie when I stumbled upon it on Netflix once after seeing he was in it....but oddly I don't remember anything about it?

    1. Really?! That's cool; I didn't know Douglas Booth played in Merlin! *sigh* I knooooowww--that's what I've been told...the thing is, I've also been told that the end is extremely emotional, and I don't know if I'm ready for another emotionally damaging TV series finale, hehe. But p'raps I'll get around to it eventually;)

      Cool! I didn't even know it was on Netflix until after I'd gone through a great rigamarole trying to find it on another site XD

    2. Nope..he plays King Arthur! And in all honesty, I thought Robin Hood series ended more emotional than Merlin....but I really enjoyed Merlin tons more than I did Robin Hood as a whole.

    3. LOL...first reading I thought you thought he played Merlin....oops! Yes he is in Merlin, but plays King Arthur....and he is so awesome in that role, one of the biggest reasons I love the show so much. Have been even thinking of restarting the series. It has honestly been one of my all time favorite series.

    4. And apparently I am an idiot? Apparently they are not the same actor! LOL. The one who plays King Arthur is Bradley James. Maybe I really did never watch this Romeo and Juliet. From the photos I saw on Netflix, I thought they were the same guy. They look so similar just in shots from this me anyways! But when I realized you said Douglas Booth...I was thinking, wait..what? I looked him up and have seen other movies he is in and never once thought he was Bradley James in those movie. I still think he looks so much like him in these photos!

    5. Haha! I thought for sure I would have known if he was in it...I have this weird thing where I'm really good at retaining the names of actors in different shows:D (My brother has watched and really liked the series.) But yes, they do look so alike, don't they?

      I really should try out this show...

      Oh, by the by, what did you think of Robin Hood? I know you don't like it as much as Merlin, hehe, but what were your final thoughts?

  9. Okay, so I know this is a couple years late, but whatever.
    I saw this movie last Saturday O_O I LOVE IT SO MUCH IT"S SO GOOD
    Am I the only who cried her eyes out at the ending? I wish they had changed the ending!
    As to the inappropriate scene, they actually didn't show anything (luckily).
    Sorry this came so late xD


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