Cannes 2012: Redoing ‘Romeo & Juliet’ for the Twilight Generation


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CANNES, France -- A film version of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ seems to pop up every generation. Are the Millennials ready for one to call their own?

The people behind a recently wrapped production of the classic love story believe they are. The simply titled “Romeo and Juliet” is a somewhat unexpected collaboration between high-end Austrian design house Swarovski (it financed and also brought some of its fashion savvy) and Julian Fellowes, the novelist and Oscar-winning screenwriter (he wrote the script).


Starring British teen Douglas Booth and “True Grit” It girl Hailee Steinfeld as the star-crossed pair, the film looks to capitalize on the timelessness of the love story and the youthful appeal of its stars. It is being directed by Carlo Carlei, an Italian director who shot the traditional costume period piece in Italy earlier this year.

The film is still being edited, with footage shown to buyers here at the Cannes Film Festival. The idea is to eventually land a U.S. deal and bring it out Stateside, possibly, though not necessarily, in 2013, according to producers. It’s one of several new spins on the classic play currently being attempted by Hollywood and independent financiers.

At a swishy beachside party Saturday night aimed at shining a light on the Steinfeld project, filmmakers gathered to toast their film and woo distributors such as Sony Pictures Classics, whose executives were in the room. Sparkly Swarovski bracelets were handed out and a designer-cocktail menu with concoctions like ‘The Capulet’ and ‘The Montague’ was served.

But despite the setting and the source material, the filmmakers said they were aiming for youthful, populist entertainment.

“It’s a classic story that we want every teenager in the world to come see,” Ileen Maisel, one of the film’s producers, told 24 Frames, adding that even though the dialogue retained Shakespeare’s flavor, it was uttered in “understandable iambic pentameter.’

Or as one of the film’s publicists put it: “This is ‘Romeo and Juliet’ for the Twilight Generation.”


Central to that effort is Steinfeld, a teen star since her breakout turn in “True Grit’ in 2010. It was hard Saturday night to forget Steinfeld’s presence in the film, with a giant painted portrait of her dressed in full Juliet regalia adorning one end of the party’s lounge space.

The tortured-love vibe of “Romeo And Juliet” is felt strongly in much of today’s youth entertainment. But given that baby boomers had their version of the Shakespeare classic (Franco Zeffirelli’s in 1968) and Generation X had its version (1996’s quick-cut “Romeo + Juliet,” directed by Baz Luhrmann), it was only a matter of time before someone in the 21st century tried the actual thing. The Cullen-obsessed, these filmmakers hope, want some of their dramatic romance without vampires, too.


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--Steven Zeitchik