1. Mercutio (played by Harold Perrineau). He makes a really hot drag-fairy. When he gets knifed, and dies in Romeo’s arms, Oh, the pain. When I first watched it, tears were streaming down my ten-year-old cheeks. It was like my little heart hadn’t known sorrow until that point.
2. It’s Leo in his prime. It was ’96 and he was rockin the blonde highlights. In my opinion, Romeo + Juliet and The Beach were it. Titanic…hmmm… But definitely everything thereafter- Meh.
3. It has a killer soundtrack. When I say soundtrack, I am thinking of one song in particular- the spectacular ‘Talk Show Host’ by Radiohead. It plays as we meet the broody Romeo for the first time, backlit as he is by the sunset. His dad, Montague Snr., is saying something about his son’s tears “augmenting the fresh morning’s dew”. *Sigh*. So poignant.
5. Des’ree. That song sung by anyone else would be soppy but her voice soars.
6. The climactic scene in the church. When Romeo escapes his pursuers, he falls down, breathless, at the door to the chapel. He pauses, for meaningful effect, with one eye peeking from the darkness. Then he makes his way along the colonnade of blazing candles and icons, choking with grief… as an athiest, churches ordinarily hold little intrigue, but this instance has real gravitas.
7. I’m not sure that I love this, as much as I just want to comment how utterly awkward it was watching the ‘bedroom’ scenes in Year 10 English.
8. Paul Rudd. It goes without saying, I completely have a soft spot for this guy. This is a different Rudd to the goofy guy of the Judd Apatow movies, and he does the campy and slightly-gormless thing well. Bachelor of the Year indeed.
9. The aesthetic. Baz Luhrmann’s use of kitsch in this instance actually worked . Unfortunately I can’t say the same for Moulin Rouge.
10. The end credits. A fitting tribute to a tragic conclusion, for obvious reasons (see my comments at number 3). As the credits roll, the song starts off desultory and bereft, and then the eerie vibe builds. Thom is singing “We ‘ope, that chu choke, that chu cho-oke…” and it is somehow so appropriate.