Sony's 'Romeo & Juliet' Adaptation 'Verona' Takes A Classic Love Story & Turns It Into An Epic Adventure Tale
"For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo." That's how the classic Shakespearean tale goes, and now we're about to see our umpteenth reinterpretation of the romance — this time from Sony. The studio is negotiating the rights to pick up a Romeo and Juliet adaptation called Verona, by Neil Widener and Gavin James, which is said to "reimagine the classic love story through a lens of an epic, 300-style world." That's right. It's Romeo and Juliet set against a similar backdrop as the Zack Snyder film that gave us the, "THIS. IS. SPARTA." meme. Verona is, of course, the Italian city in which the play is set, so I'm already predicting that the whole Montague-Capulet war thing is being taken far beyond some petty squabbles and thumb-biting in the streets.
This upcoming adaptation might not have Leonardo DiCaprio in it like the 1996 Romeo + Juliet from 20th Century Fox, but it still sounds cool as all hell. The Shakespearean play is so familiar to us by now that it's no longer enough for a retelling to simply, well, retell the story. Setting it in a world like 300, making the stakes for our lovers even higher than they ever were when the play was set, will make the tragedy of their ill-timed, hormonally driven teenage infatuation just that much more poignant.
However, there have been a lot of Romeo and Juliet adaptations over the years, so there are certain things I'm hoping that Sony makes sure to incorporate into Verona for my own satisfaction. The character of Mercutio, for example, is the kind of insane, nonsensical, yet deeply necessary person that I hope gets a huge role in this upcoming film. Mercutio and the Nurse add to the absurdist feel of a story that is, at its core, about two teenagers who met on Friday, got married by Sunday, and were dead by Monday through a series of ill-timed events. Talk about your whirlwind romances.
Then, there's the character of Paris. Poor Paris gets such a bad rep for being a boring drip compared to the more passionate Romeo (well, and older — but Juliet was like 13 years old to begin with), and I'd like Verona to give him a fair chance to be a three-dimensional foil to Romeo. Bonus points for somehow crafting his character in a way to make it unclear if we're supposed to prefer Romeo over him. Let's all take a moment to acknowledge that Juliet (and Romeo and Mercutio and Tybalt) would probably not be dead if Juliet and Paris had remained together. Or if Rosaline had returned Romeo's phone calls, so to speak.
And that's the final component I want to see from this movie. Can we give Rosaline a bigger role, please? And some speaking lines? Maybe a subplot? The girl was not only also a member of the Capulet family — she was Juliet's cousin — but she was also the "Juliet" that Romeo was madly in love with before he met the real one. Hell, the only reason he met Juliet was because he crashed her father's party to find Rosaline. Now's a good chance to have Juliet make an informed decision about her relationship with Romeo by having a close relationship with her cousin, who can show her all those impassioned letters Romeo was sending Rosaline up until ten minutes before he met Juliet. I'm just saying.
Finally, if they want to cast Leonardo DiCaprio...well, I'm not going to complain.
Image: 20th Century Fox; qwerty-q/Tumblr