Julian Fellowes might be responsible for Downton Abbey, the Titanic mini-series and that film where Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie mumbled interminably at each other in Venice, but now he faces his sternest task yet: adapting a classic work of literature.
Yes, there's going to be a new Romeo and Juliet film. This one has been written for the screen by Fellowes, directed by Carlo Carlei and stars Douglas Booth and Hailee Steinfeld as the titular star-crossed lovers. At first glance, the story seems to be a straight live-action update of 2011's Gnomeo & Juliet, where two young people fall in love against the wishes of their warring families; then there's a needlessly long Rocket Man medley, a ceramic frog falls over and everyone lives happily ever after. Let's look through the new Romeo and Juliet trailer to see just how faithful it is.
The first difference is that this version of Romeo and Juliet has been made by Swarovski Entertainment, which actually exists. According to its website, Swarovski Entertainment aims to "express Swarovski's philosophy, identity and creative essence through moving images to enchant and inspire audiences". Because nothing expresses the philosophy, identity and creative essence of glass crystals like a load of grouchy Italians stabbing each other, does it?
But on to the film. This is the scene where Romeo and Juliet first meet. It's roughly the equivalent of the bit in Gnomeo & Juliet where they both dress up as ninjas and squabble over a flower to the sound of an Elton John and Lady Gaga duet. You remember. Anyway, as you can see, this is quite clearly love at first sight.
However, trouble abounds in the form of Damian Lewis's Lord Capulet. He's here to uphold the strict Every Film Called Romeo and Juliet Should Have Someone from Homeland in It rule. Which reminds me: someone sorely needs to make a new adaptation that stars Saul's beard as Juliet's Nurse.
Also in this version of Romeo and Juliet: Paul Giamatti, who presumably plays Romeo's troublemaking sidekick or something.
But back to the story. Romeo and Juliet are now consummating their love, in a scene reminiscent of the one from Gnomeo & Juliet where they quickly get interrupted by a giant plastic breakdancing flamingo from Cuba. You remember.
And now for the famous balcony scene. This is possibly the swankiest balcony ever seen in a Romeo and Juliet balcony scene. Just look at it. You know, I'd say that this balcony perfectly expresses Swarovski's philosophy, identity and creative essence. I can see why it was so keen to fund this whole endeavour now.
Now, I can't really remember this bit happening in Gnomeo & Juliet, but it looks as if Paul Giamatti is attempting to supply either Romeo or Juliet with some form of medicine. It's probably a form of proto-Viagra that'll push the story forward to its inevitably happy conclusion.
Hang on a minute, Juliet's dead? She's either dead or doing her best to recreate a scene from a generic 80s pop video, and it can't be that because this is in the past and the 80s haven't happened yet. But Juliet can't be dead, surely. This is a happy story about love and happiness and gnomes. What has Paul Giamatti done? I knew he was trouble.
Wait, Juliet was only pretending to be dead, but Romeo found her before she woke up and poisoned himself? And now Juliet has woken up, seen that Romeo is dead and stabbed herself in the heart with his dagger? This didn't happen in Gnomeo & Juliet. That ended with both of them getting married on a purple lawnmower while a stone hippo sang a remix of Crocodile Rock at them. How dare Julian Fellowes change the ending of a masterpiece like that. I shall never forgive him for this. Never.
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