Sundance Festival Movie Review – R#J

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I’ve taken a vacation from Facebook.  Which makes it ironic that one of my favorite films from this year’s Sundance festival is drenched in social media.  The classic story of Romeo and Juliet is told through text messages, Spotify playlists, FaceTime conversations, YouTube videos, search engine results, Facebook DM’s, and Instagram stories. It seems like a gimmick at first, but it’s actually a lot of fun.

Do we really need another adaptation of Romeo and Juliet?

Yes, yes we do.  Especially when it’s one that is this romantic, playful, and unafraid to have fun with the Bard.  While most of the language is Shakespeare’s, there is some modern dialogue and slang thrown in.  There’s a major tweak to the plot as well that I found extremely satisfying.

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What I love about R#J

The multiracial cast is amazing.  While the actors are primarily newcomers (at least to me), Russell Hornsby (who was so awesome in Fences and The Hate U Give) plays the police captain Prince in a sobering performance.  (This is the character Prince Escaluss from the play.)  The fight scenes are all Instagram stories. You get to read all the comments from other characters as the action is happening.  And some of them are hilarious.

The movie definitely has replay value as you’ll want to watch again and try to catch the comments you missed.  R#J also has one of the best soundtracks of the year and I’m dying for an album or a playlist with all the songs.

Final thoughts on R#J

I adore this version of Shakespeare’s story.  It’s fun and inventive.  It’s as good  an adaptation as Baz Luhrman’s Romeon and Juliet.

The tragedy of this film is that it is currently without distribution.  I’m hoping someone will pick it up and release it.  Because I can’t wait to watch it a second time and I want everyone to have the opportunity to see this modern romance.

Grade: A

What I Saw During the 2021 Sundance Film Festival

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