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James Berardinelli, “Romeo + Juliet (2013)” Tries Hard but Misses the Point

In response to James Berardinelli’s 752‑word review of Romeo and Juliet on ReelViews

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James Berardinelli, “Romeo + Juliet (2013)”  starts with an argument: that the famous play by Shakespeare has been turned into films so many times that there is little new to be done.  

It sounds good, but the point is hollow. The play is produced every year across the globe to audiences who want to see the words come alive. If so with theater, where it’s been in production for hundreds of years, how can the filming of the play have nothing new to add?

Berardinelli, sadly, can’t answer this question because he already has his answer: there’s nothing new under the sun. We get another hailing of the 1968 filmed version as the gold standard, which, feels like a cop out.

It would help immensely if Berardinelli would remember that most audiences are not film students, and start his analysis there. But his audience is himself, first and foremost, and while a fine position, it still rests on an empty argument.  

Void of inspiration filled with “small pleasures,” the review is effecting in its inability to find much joy in this version, burdened as it is by all the films, and perhaps plays, Berdinelli has seen. It’s a tedious affair to read the work of someone who had their mind made up before the previews were even done. If updates were so awful, so uncompelling, so weak, it begs the question: which will be the next failure for Berdardinelli to lament?    

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