William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is a wild rollercoaster-ride adaptation of the classic directed by the audacious Australian Baz Luhrmann who created the wonderful Strictly Ballroom.

The film begins in the Latino metropolis of Verona Beach with a shootout at a gas station between two rival gangs — the Montagues and the Capulets. At a masquerade ball, Romeo (Leonardo DiCaprio), a Montague, falls in love with Juliet (Clare Danes), a Capulet whose tyrannical father (Paul Sorvino) wants her to marry Paris (Paul Rudd). The first flirtation between these two infatuated adolescents is a marvel of playfulness and emotional warmth. But when Tybalt (John Leguizamo) plunges a knife in the side of Romeo's best friend Mercutio (Harold Perrineau) the die is cast for fast unfolding tragedy.

Juliet's nurse (Miriam Margolyles) and Romeo's friend Father Lawrence (Peter Postlethwaite) help the two young lovers pull off a secret marriage. But fate deals this unlucky couple a bad hand. This juiced-up version of the Shakespeare classic brims with dramatic tension, colorful and fast-paced scenes, and visual flare. Leonardo DiCaprio and Clare Danes convincingly convey the youthful ardor of first love and the primal passions surrounding it.