“For never was a story of more woe, than this of Juliet and her Romeo.” Romeo & Juliet, Act 5, scene iii
What would’ve happened had Romeo & Juliet NOT died at the end of Romeo + Juliet? That’s the question upcoming film, The Enemy tries to answer. In this world, Romeo and Juliet are alive. For eighteen years and nine months, less a day, the star-crossed lovers have lived in exile far from Verona. Now their hiding place is known, and their epic warring families are out for blood. The safe life Romeo and Juliet have built belongs to the past, and the greatest love story ever told is about to be reborn. OUR question then, is does The Enemy successfully take one of the greatest love stories ever told and expand upon it, making it better? The answer, unfortunately, is not necessarily so.
We open upon Romeo & Juliet bitterly fighting and being interviewed by the cops about causing a domestic disturbance. R&J continue to fight and argue throughout the film – getting married at 13 and 14 definitely has it’s drawbacks, it seems…However, this night they’re also celebrating the 18th birthday of their daughter., Kate Yep, R&J had a kid (pretty much immediately too). Kate shows up for dinner with a man in tow, Theo, which Juliet is none too pleased about. In fact, Kate and Juliet really don’t get along that well. Like, AT ALL. The rest of the evening becomes Romeo & Juliet retelling their love story, one Kate truly never knew, while Kate tries to build HER love story, all while everyone from their past in Verona decides to descend upon the house in one night (Paris, Balthazar, and more).
Every actor in this film is absolutely wonderful. From Paris and his sing-song narration to Juliet’s vitriol, they are fucking fabulous. My problem here is a matter of choice of casting, I guess, in that several characters do NOT look age appropriate. Kate is supposed to be 18 but looks MUCH older. Paris had a line about them all being children back when R&J ran away (and we already know R&J were 13 and 14) but he looks like he’s in his late 40s. Just, everyone in this film looks to be in the 30s to 40s age range, and it doesn’t work. ESPECIALLY Kate. Her not looking anywhere near 18 took me out of the film so much.
I enjoyed the sense of being a fly on the wall in the way the movie was filmed. It was fun and intriguing and I really felt like I was watching these people in their every day lives. Unfortunately, over a quarter of the film involved night or dark scenes that were TOO dark and I couldn’t see what was happening. I didn’t even see Paris’ face until the very, very end and he was in the movie from the very beginning. So, the lit scenes are great; the dark scenes could really use a bit more light.
The dialogue was a lot of fun in places because they kept to the use of iambic pentameter a lot, particularly in Paris’ narration (yay!!), and there were lots of plays upon words (I’m a language nerd. Totes). If you’re anything like me in that regard or if you just love Shakespeare as much as I do (and I carry his complete works in my car at all times), then you’ll definitely dig that. Things did get a bit boring, however. It felt like the film was aimed at people who’d never seen or read Romeo & Juliet before because they seriously did go through that story. It wasn’t just a matter of – “oh, this is how I met your mother!” – it was a long drawn out flowery murderous tale (you know, basically the play but in conversation form). It didn’t leave much room for The Enemy to have it’s own story and what story it did have was almost a re-telling. So they retold the story via R&J, then they retold the story AGAIN via characters & action.
The Enemy started out strong but it lost its way. The idea of Romeo & Juliet having escaped with their lives and building a life elsewhere is truly fascinating and I REALLY love it. I just didn’t really love THIS version of it. While it wasn’t really for me, if you do love Shakespeare or language, or a bunch of Italians yelling at each other (made me miss Jersey! *sighs*), then this just might be the film for you. The acting really is excellent; you really do feel like you’re there; it just needs a bit of tightening up perhaps?