Romeo and Juliet might take the ultimate risk for love, but the new film version isn’t taking any…

Hailee Steinfeld and Douglas Booth star in the new trailer for the Shakespeare adaptation from Downton creator Julian Fellowes

Things are getting a bit dramatic in the second trailer for Julian Fellowes’ Romeo and Juliet. There’s all the clashing of swords, tears and passionate embraces you’d expect from an adaptation of the Bard’s most famous love story… But it’s all falling a bit flat, if you ask me.


Romeo and Juliet must be one of the most well known stories ever told. So why should this version convince us to go and watch it being told again for £8 a pop?

Douglas Booth’s chiseled jaw and Hailee Steinfeld’s tumbling curls are sure to draw a teenage audience keen to find a love story fit to replace Bella and Edward’s bloodthirsty one. But it’s not a real romance. You can’t trick us with the longing looks of fresh-faced teens Steinfeld and Booth. We know the lovebirds kill themselves at the end, so it’s hardly the making of a lucrative franchise…

Gossip Girl fans who miss Ed Westwick’s smouldering Chuck Bass will be pleased to see him taking up the role of dangerous Tybalt… But then again, we all know his character dies quite early on too, so I’m not sure he’s enough to keep us in our cinema seats.

Now, good old Julian Fellowes – creator of Downton Abbey – wrote the screenplay, which did fill me with renewed hope. But what can the master of melodrama bring to the decades-old Shakespeare play? We can barely have Romeo expiring in Juliet’s bed before their wedding night or Tybalt facing his fate at the wheel of a vintage car. Even if it’s adapted well, there can be little dramatic tension, no plot twists. We’ve seen it all before.

Remakes of classic stories need more to them. Like Baz Luhrmann’s masterful 1999 Romeo + Juliet, they need to be done in an interesting or beautiful way so we forget we know how it all ends. But, from the look of the trailer, this Romeo and Juliet is just a straight adaptation – a glossy Hollywood retelling with the right language, the right setting, the right costume. Nothing new here.

And – Damian Lewis’ silly hairdo aside – I’d guess it’s going to be a bit of a bore fest…

Paul Giamatti, Ed Westwick, Damian Lewis and Stellan Skarsgard also star in the Carlo Carlei directed adaptation. 

See if I’m proven wrong when Romeo and Juliet hits UK cinemas on 11 October.


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