“Romeo & Juliet”: One More Version Is Never Enough

The presence in the world of yet another Romeo and Juliet film poses so many fun philosophical questions. For instance: Because Claire Danes was in Baz Luhrmann's 1996 version (as Juliet), and Damien Lewis is in this one (as Juliet's father), can we count on someone else from the cast of Homeland to show up in another one some years from now? Maybe Mandy Patinkin as the apothecary, selling Romeo his poison? Also: What does it mean that Hailee Steinfeld, our Juliet here, seems so much more like an actual human being when reciting Shakespeare's verse than she did reciting Charles Portis' dialogue in the Coen brothers' version of True Grit? And: Is director Carlo Carlei's effort so gripping because his cast — also including Stellan Skarsgård as the prince of Verona, Lesley Manville as Juliet's nurse, Paul Giamatti as Friar Lawrence, and, as Romeo, the hunky young Douglas Booth — is so all-around good, or because the Bard just knew so well how to give actors great stuff to do, or because nothing quite freshens up a sad, stirring story of star-crossed lovers from feuding families like the warm-fuzzy watchability that only comes from having been adapted by Downton Abbey maestro Julian Fellowes? Maybe, after all, there's only one question: Will this most-filmed of Shakespeare plays, possibly of all plays, ever get old?

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