ROMEO & JULIET is even more beautiful than the famous Franco Zefferelli version because its interiors and exteriors, its sets and costumes are much less "busy," though every bit as gorgeous design-wise, while the amazing architecture -- the buildings and piazzas -- are simply breathtaking. The beauty on display here staggers the eye. If that were all, it would still be enough for me. Fortunately the film offers quite a bit more, beginning with the most beautiful Romeo ever to grace the screen (Pasolini would have been devastated) via the young actor, Douglas Booth (shown at right, above and below, of Christopher and His Kind), who, though British-born, looks utterly Italian. The Juliet of Hailee Steinfeld (shown above and below, left, of True Grit) is no match for Booth beauty-wise, but she's sweet and full of energy.
Leslie Howard/Norma Shearer 1936 version, made when those two actors were 43 and 34!)
Christian Cooke), Tybalt (Ed Westwick, above, center) and even Paris (Tom Wisdom), while Romeo's dearest friend Benvolio -- a lovely job by Kodi Smit-McPhee -- has, in the film's perfect close, a silent gesture and moment that beautifully brings home the moral of this tale.
Damian Lewis (above, left) and Natascha McElhone (above, right) as Mom and Dad Capulet. Romeo's parents, the Montagues -- played by Tomas Arana and Laura Morante -- are, as ever, less seen and heard.
Stellan Skarsgård, shown in photo at bottom, center, makes a fine and regal Prince of Verona, by the way, while Lesley Manville (above, second from right) is funny and concerned as Juliet's nurse.
Carlo Carlei, a fellow whose career I've been watching since his explosive and brilliant early film, Flight of the Innocent, some 22 years ago. (It's still the best movie yet about Italian kidnappings, family feuds, guilt and redemption.) This R & J is his best work since that early film -- in every aspect from performances to pacing to the exquisite "look" -- so it is wonder-fully fulfilling to see Carlei back in form.
Relativity, running 118 minutes, and which hit theaters last fall, is available now for streaming via Netflix, and is also viewable on DVD. But why no Blu-ray? Better to see this one in glorious high-definition streaming.