Story

Romeo and Juliet is the latest movie adaptation of Shakespeare’s famous tragic tale of romance between star-crossed lovers.

The Montague and Capulet families are sworn enemies and hate each other with a vengeance. This is unfortunate for Juliet Capulet (Hailee Steinfield) and Romeo Montague (Douglas Booth), who fall madly in love and must keep their love a secret. They marry in secret, with the blessing of Juliet’s nanny (Leslie Manville), but when Romeo kills Tybalt (Ed Westwick) in a sword fight, he is banished and sent into exile.

Lord Capulet (Damien Lewis) is determined that Juliet will marry Count Paris (Tom Wisdom), much to Juliet’s dismay. When she tells her troubles to the Friar who married them (Paul Giametti), he devises a clever plan whereby Juliet will drink poison and appear dead but will just be asleep for several hours. The Friar sends word to Romeo of his plan, but the messenger is delayed and instead Romeo receives the news that Juliet has died. He returns to find her lying on her tomb and decides he will kill himself to join her by drinking poison. Before he dies, however, Juliet awakes and finds him dying. She then kills herself with his sword.

Themes

Family feuds; doomed love; death and suicide

Violence

Romeo and Juliet has quite a lot of violence. For example:

  • The Capulets and Montagues have a jousting tournament.
  • A sword fight breaks out in the market place but no-one is injured.
  • Tybalt challenges Romeo to a fight, but his cousin Mercutio intervenes and threatens to ‘cut his innards out’. Tybalt and Mercutio fight with swords. Mercutio is killed when Tybalt’s sword goes through his stomach.
  • Romeo and Tybalt fight with swords. Romeo stabs Tybalt through the chest and kills him.
  • Lord Capulet shouts at Juliet when she refuses to marry Count Paris and pushes her onto her bed.
  • Paris and Romeo have a sword fight, and Romeo kills Paris in self-defence.
  • Romeo kills himself by drinking poison.
  • Juliet kills herself with Romeo’s sword by pushing it into her chest.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5

Children in this age group are most likely to be disturbed by the violence in Romeo and Juliet, described above. 

From 5-8

In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, Romeo and Juliet has some scenes that could scare or disturb children in this age group. For example:

  • Juliet is shown laid out on her tomb, apparently dead.
  • Tybalt is also shown laid out on a tomb. 

From 8-13

Children in this age group are likely to be disturbed by the suicides of Romeo and Juliet. 

Over 13

Younger children in this age group might also be disturbed by the suicides of Romeo and Juliet. 

Sexual references

Romeo and Juliet has some sexual references, including several references to unfulfilled love and desire. 

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

Romeo and Juliet shows some use of substances. For example:

  • People drink alcohol at a celebration, and young men drink alcohol out of bottles and behave in a drunken way.
  • Romeo and Juliet both knowingly drink poison, which kills them. 

Nudity and sexual activity

Romeo and Juliet shows some nudity and sexual activity. For example:

  • Romeo and Juliet kiss passionately several times.
  • On the eve of Romeo and Juliet’s wedding, they kiss passionately and undress each other but are shown in underwear. They spend the night in bed together but nothing much is shown. 

Product placement

None

Coarse language

Romeo and Juliet has some mild coarse language and name-calling. 

Ideas to discuss with your children

Romeo and Juliet is the latest movie version of Shakespeare’s tragedy about the doomed romance of two young people who are victims of a family feud.

This adaption of the story is filmed in beautiful settings on location in Italy. Unfortunately, the Shakespearean language, which is not true to the original play, sounds stilted, flat and unnatural, particularly between the two young lovers. As a result, younger viewers might find the movie quite tedious. Also, several scenes are too violent for young children, and tweens and younger teenagers might be disturbed by the suicides of Romeo and Juliet.

The main message from Romeo and Juliet is that love can rise above hatred.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include the importance of questioning traditional hatreds and bigotry.

Romeo and Juliet could also give you the chance to talk with your children about how values have changed since Shakespeare’s time and whether it’s possible to fall in love by sight alone, without actually knowing the other person.