Radical stylistic re-interpretations of famous stories and literary works are fairly popular right now – see director Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina or Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, for case in point – which makes director Carlo Carlei’s upcoming traditional approach to adapting William’s Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet seem almost refreshing and unusual by comparison.
Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) and Douglas Booth (the 2011 Great Expectations mini-series) are playing the star-crossed teen lovers in Carlei’s cinematic take on the Bard’s work, which was even shot on location in Verona, Italy. The trailer indicates this is very much a purist envisioning of the play in cinematic form, complete with costumes designed by award-winner Carlo Poggi (Cold Mountain, Miracle at St. Ana) and late 16th/early 17th-century scenery that appears historically-accurate – enough for the film’s purposes, anyway.
Judging by the trailer footage, Carlei’s Romeo and Juliet adaptation features some handsome cinematography by David Tatttersall (the Star Wars prequel trilogy). Meanwhile, the adapted screenplay by Oscar-winner Julia Fellowes (the creator of Downton Abby) appears to keep a healthy percentage of the Bard’s scenarios and dialogue intact; combine that with a tame atmosphere and clean technical style, and this seems like the kind of Shakespeare adaptation that high school teachers would like to show their students (which IS a compliment, in this case).
Steinfeld looks to leave another good impression with her turn as Juliet, while the part of Romeo will allow a larger number of moviegoers a chance to see Booth flex his drama muscles, before he costars in director Darren Aronofsky’s Noah and the Wachowskis’ Jupiter Ascending next year (I’m guessing most people missed his performance opposite Miley Cyrus in LOL).
The supporting cast is equally strong, featuring people like Paul Giamatti (The Amazing Spider-Man 2), Damian Lewis (Homeland), Stellan Skarsgård (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Natasha McElhone (Californication) and Kodi Smit-McPhee (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), among others.
Romeo and Juliet opens in the UK on July 26th, 2013; it does not have a U.S. release date yet. We’ll keep you posted.