Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet was released 20 years ago this week. To commemorate the milestone, The Ringer’s Allison P Davis revisited the film to ask the question… Are We Sure It’s Good? Obviously I agree with all of her points – that the film is overstimulating (and overstimulated), that it’s insanely paced, that the plot is driven by the most absurd plot-holes, but also that it’s gorgeous to look at, gorgeous to listen to, and that it was “big and audacious and batsh-t in a brave way”. As Allison observes, Romeo + Juliet was made for social media, only way before social media existed, which perhaps is why it escaped cynicism.
Romeo + Juliet’s greatest power though is Leonardo DiCaprio. The film may be a beautiful mess in hindsight but for those of us who still pine for it nostalgically, it all goes back to his face. Allison hilariously writes that Leo’s Romeo face is “the source material for his anguish”. Like his entire performance in The Revenant is based on him being pissed that he doesn’t look like that anymore. But I’d also like to add that his Romeo face is the source material for OUR anguish. Not only because he doesn’t look like that anymore but because that face was a lie. Leo was never Romeo. He has shown us, repeatedly, that he never was and will never be Romeo. And in spite of this, there are those who continue to hope for it. This movie is the reason. The face in this movie and the way he used it. The way he looked at her through that fish tank, raised his eyebrows to ask a hesitant, unspoken question – “Can I know you? I would like to know you” – conning us into believing that Leonardo DiCaprio actually cares about really knowing a girl.
Titanic is the film most often credited with turning Leonardo DiCaprio into a heartthrob. Allison counters that “if you didn’t realize Leo Was Hot until Titanic (1997), you were late to the game, dweebs”. Like your parents. Titanic Leo was the first boyfriend your parents wanted for you. Romeo Leo was the first boyfriend you wanted for yourself. Like so many of our first boyfriends, they turned out to be a disappointment.
Click here to read Allison’s A Close Reading of Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet at The Ringer.
Have a great weekend!
Yours in gossip,