USA | 2011 | 98 mins
When eight cadets are left behind at an isolated military high school, the greatest romantic drama ever written seeps out of the classroom and permeates their lives. Incorporating the original text of Romeo and Juliet, YouTube videos, and lip-synched Indie rock music, PRIVATE ROMEO takes us to a mysterious and tender place that only Shakespeare could have inspired.
Though Romeo and Juliet is usually interpreted as a romantic tale of young love thwarted by a family feud, recent re-readings convinced me that it is actually a much more modern, and relevant story about sexual identity and desire pitted against society and its institutions; about personal freedom and rights versus authority. As a gay man and an artist, frustrated by the political battles, and inaction, over gay equality, and by the heart-breaking epidemic of gay bullying, I thought Shakespeare would be the perfect vehicle for exploring these issues. As PRIVATE ROMEO’s high school military cadets find themselves in the kinds of emotionally tumultuous situations — falling in love; the loss of friendship; confronting homophobia — that would leave any adolescent (or adult) at a loss for words, they must use Shakespeare’s language as their sole means of expression, forcing them to explore the profound drama of coming-of-age.