Thursday, August 08, 2013

Romeo and Juliet: A Love Song

Like the time we went to the Wellington Premiere of How to Meet Girls from a Distance, last Friday  I felt like I was one of the few people in the cinema who had actually paid for their ticket. How to Meet Girls was at a packed out Paramount Theatre, whereas Romeo and Juliet was playing to a very empty Embassy. It seems very sad that in a city that prides itself on being a cultural capital hardly anyone turned out to watch a (local) new take on a Shakespeare play. Especially when Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing this coming Friday night is already sold out. I am worried that Romeo and Juliet: A Love Song may sink without trace, which would be a pity.

This film is a musical (Rock Opera) version  of Romeo and Juliet, set in the Waipu Cove camping ground  and immediate environs. The flavour is bogan/downmarket Outrageous Fortune - Juliet's Mother makes Cheryl West look positively classy. There are caravans, V8s, racing along the beach and lots of drinking.
The two leads are beautiful teenagers, as they should be. There are 2 separate casts - the people you see in the film are not the ones whose voices you hear in the soundtrack. I thought, listening to it, that there were only a very few singers - Lord Montague and Lord Capulet sounded like they were being sung by the same person - but I see from the credits that this was not the case. It's a pity that the voices didn't sound as unique as the actors looked.

This film was beautiful to look at and enjoyable to listen to. There's effort involved , of course - making sure you've heard what's being sung, processing Shakespeare's language, appreciating the rhymes, and the tune and having some attention left to look at the picture. And then there's maintaining the detachment to appreciate the humour - this is a comic take on the tragic love story.

I'd like to watch the movie again, but before I did that I'd like to listen to the soundtrack a couple of times I believe the soundtrack was where it all started - this musical version of one of the world's most famous plays was written well before the composers thought of getting a film made. From listening to the Q & A with the director after the film it seems that the composers have big dreams, and that the film is just the first step in their musical taking the world by storm.  And that's where I start to get worried. Who are the people who are going to be flocking to this movie? Is it too much like hard work to watch it? Can the world relate to a kiwi camping ground? Perhaps I'm over-thinking it - after all Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote a hugely successful musical based on TS Eliot poems about cats. Romeo and Juliet: a love story is way cooler.

Anne's rating 3/5

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