Romeo & Juliet

Rated 1.0

William Shakespeare's tragedy of star-crossed love gets a thorough dumbing-down from writer Julian Fellowes and director Carlo Carlei, evidently to cash in on the dimwits in the moviegoing audience. Where the Bard wrote poetry, Fellowes purveys doggerel, laced with clichés that were old even in Shakespeare's day (which may be why he didn't write them). Carlei is out of his depth, as are the Romeo and Juliet of Douglas Booth and Hailee Steinfeld. Booth is a pretty but empty face, Steinfeld flounders, and both are lackluster and halting, looking vaguely embarrassed by all this flowery language. The supporting cast does better—Paul Giamatti's conniving Friar Laurence, Lesley Manville's featherheaded Nurse, Stellan Skarsgård's stately Prince—even as they contend with the worst of Fellowes' clumsy paraphrasing.