As a huge Shakespeare fan I had a blast with this modern take on Romeo and Juliet. Part of the fun for me is decoding the language and all of the nuances buried within the dialogue. I had an equal amount of fun decoding the Easter eggs starting in the first moment of this movie. They dove right in to the context of the language of Romeo and Juliet by depicting the characters in modern ways by scrolling through their profiles on Instagram. The film also used original Shakespearean language mixed with current lingo making this story relevant, enjoyable, and easy to watch.
Told through the eyes of a teenager, aka social media, this new age version of Romeo and Juliet just hits different. Shared entirely through the lens of a smart phone, both figuratively and metaphorically, it looks like the world our teens live in, giving real context and meaning to the ancient story and language of Shakespeare. From the first few moments, the implications of of these star-crossed lovers being kids caught up in a situation they are too young to handle really hits hard. So, with follow and a like, they were star-crossed, doomed to be lovers.
For an old millennial maiden like myself, the silence of only socializing through a phone was a little difficult to adjust to, however, I know the reality is that this is how Gen Z and Gen-C(ovid) is living, for better or for worse. DMs, texts, FaceTime calls, and live stream videos with comments included were the highlight for me. It was funny and real and gave the content nice breaks making to easier to swallow for all audiences.
It was fun as an R&J fan to see the adaptions in the beloved characters like the apothecary was wise stoner and the Nurse was listed as an RN. It was titivating to see the clever adaptions, but I’m afraid only the true Shakespearean fans will catch those layers. The only disconnect for me, was the blending of language between speaking aloud on FaceTime or FB live videos, and texting. When the kids were texting they used old English only and in text, they used current English. I think the blend would have been more successful if both versions of English were used all the time, interspersed between the different mediums.
Considering the difficulty of recording the film (assuming) only in a phone the shots were interesting and creative, especially during the final scene when timing has to be impeccable. The FaceTime call between Romeo and Juliet when Juliet is cancelled on social media and drinks her sleeping poison right before Romeo answers the call was done really well. Seeing his reaction to her seemingly commit suicide promotes him to do the same on a live video which felt almost too real. It was tough being imersed into the tech world and feeling like a teenager again, and then realizing how hard it is to live through high school, in a pandemic, and exclusively online where toxicity can spread life wildfire. Suicide is still an issue amongst teenagers and this timeless tale reminds us that our kids are precious and living through such a tough time whether it’s the 1500’s or 2021. We need to remember how hard it was being a teenager and try to help our kids through it, not wrestle them into adulthood or back to childhood.