instyle– There’s Baz Luhrmann’s beloved Romeo + Juliet and 2013’s Romeo and Juliet, which starred Hailee Steinfeld and about a million Swarovski crystals. But 2021 is getting its own take on Shakespeare’s tale of star-crossed lovers and it’s aimed at people’s obsessions with screens and social media.
What is R#J?
Director Carey Williams’s take on Romeo and Juliet transports the Capulets and Montagues into the digital world. Variety notes that the movie feels more like an experiment than an actual film, but all of the story’s characters are present and accounted for. As for the hashtag in the title, it’s there to let everyone know that this take isn’t going to include sword fights, men in tights, or over-the-top balls and costumes.
Who are the stars of R#J?
Following in the footsteps of Leonardi DiCaprio, Claire Danes, Steinfeld, and all the actors before them, Camaron Engels and Francesca Noel are the titular couple in R#J. Both relatively new to the scene, Engels has had roles on Black-ish and Malibu Rescue. Noel has starred in Selah and the Spades and Then Came You. Unlike past films, Romeo is Black and Juliet is Latina.
What is R#J about?
There are a few changes from the Romeo and Juliet that gets taught in school. Yes, there are families that don’t get along, but instead of meeting up at a party, Romeo and Juliet meet (not meet-cute) at an art show and most of their interaction occurs on their phones. Their handles are @roamrome and @jewelz for anyone wondering.
The storyline tracks with everything viewers will remember — minus just a few changes — and although the dialogue is in iambic pentameter, with characters pulling directly from the original play, they text and message each other in a more casual way, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
When is R#J being released?
The movie premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival on January 30, 2021. It also screened at South by Southwest in March 2021. The film is still looking for wider release.
What are critics saying?
Indiewire says that it’s easy to say that the movie is “Romeo and Juliet, but on Instagram.” But that might oversimplify things. Both Variety and THR were also not completely on board with characterization and questioned the entire premise of putting the tale in the world of apps, Likes, and gifs. Going Instagram official may seem like a big deal when two celebs do it, but in R#J, critics don’t seem to be moved to feel much.