Expect a highly unorthodox vision of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet when Baz Luhrman's 1996 film version of the 1596 drama opens in cinemas Nov. 1. Just as Rent brings La Boheme to AIDS-era Manhattan bohemia, Luhrman's film relocates the story to Verona Beach, FL, where the gang violence (a la West Side Story, the previous update of R&J) with cars, guns, drugs and black leather rule the two star-crossed lovers, and where the introductory verse is delivered, not by a chorus, but by a TV newscaster.
The film -- officially titled William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet -- stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo, Claire Danes as Juliet, Brian Dennehy as "Ted Montague," John Leguizamo as Tybalt, Paul Sorvino as "Fulgelencio Capulet," Diane Venora (who played Hamlet at the New York Shakespeare Festival) as "Gloria Capulet," and Paul Rudd as "Dave Paris."
Variety's critic described the film as "No doubt the most aggressively modern, assertively trendy adaptations [sic] of Shakespeare ever filmed . . ."
-- By Robert Viagas