A clever retelling of Romeo & Juliet set within the closeted confines of a military academy for young cadets. While the drama of the star-crossed lovers is played out in the classroom, Sam/Romeo and Glenn/Juliet find themselves falling in love.
This is beautifully made, with some real stand out performances, Hale Appelman’s Queen Mab speech is superbly done, an evocative paean to this mysterious creature but also a perfect demonstration of Mercutio’s narcotic state and a perhaps repressed desire to impress Romeo.
Appelman also gets the meaty dream speech and a powerful confrontation with Bobby Moreno’s Tybalt in the gym which gives the hard edged conflict between “warring” factions necessary for this play.
However, the heart of the film is the romance between Seth Numan and Matt Doyle’s two young cadets, falling head over heels without thought of the consequences of their actions at a time when DADT was still very much in full force (at the time the film was made).
They come together for a brief moment, are separated due to conflict and pass out from a cocktail of drugs purloined from Friar Laurence in the chemistry lab (a nicely understated performance from Adam Barrie).
But the real star of this film is the devotion to the original material. The Bard is not tampered with except to move dialogue around to place in different acts. While roaming down a corridor looking for a hiding Romeo, Benvolio (Sean Hudock) and Mercutio still speak of trees not classroom doors, Juliet remains a she, as does Nurse (a comedic tour de force from Chris Bresky).
With Charlie Barnett rounding out the cast of just eight as the cadet left in charge/Prince Escalus, Alan Brown’s direction gives this film a lilting feel which ebbs and flows around the darker side of Shakespeare’s play. Alongside the Original score composed by Nicholas R. Wright are also a couple of top tunes from indie band Bishop Allen.
Get it on Amazon here: Private Romeo