Monday, June 12, 2023

Not Your Romeo & Juliet: Movie Review

Short and sweet.
Not Your Romeo & Juliet is a university produced indie romantic comedy. Taking place entirely within the university campus, the minimal budget is obvious, but the film also doesn’t try do anything beyond its means. Coming in at a very brisk 70 minutes, the simple story is told in a very refreshing straight-forward and efficient way. The rom-com plot is very predictable, but the characters are well crafted.   2023

Directed by: Matthew Kistenmacher

Screenplay by: Sean Gaffney

Starring: Ashley Butler, Ben Jeffers

Micki (Ashley Butler) is a very outgoing, very talkative, very bubbly person, and no I did not use the word “very” too often. She is exactly that hyperactive, overly-involved girl from school that you didn’t dare be friends with because she would be too exhausting. In movie form though, she’s pretty fun. Ashley Butler does a good job at making Micki a warm and compassionate person instead of just an annoying, in-your-face person. Micki writes an anonymous romance column in her school’s paper, calling herself Juliet, but it's really not anonymous because she’s so proud of her efforts that everybody who knows her knows she’s Juliet.

The Juliet column and Micki’s world-view are both pro-romance idealism but also about women sticking up for themselves. Her home life won’t surprise anyone because it perfectly fits with what we already know about Micki: her father passed away when she was younger, so she hypes herself up, and hypes her single mom up who is going back to school at the same university. Her warmth shines through since Micki is genuinely encouraging of everything her mother does. Micki is an over-ebullient compassionate person because she raised herself that way to create a world for herself that she likes, even though this is a world that takes people away.

Back at university, Micki meets Noah (Ben Jeffers) a well-spoken classmate whom she immediately hits it off with and spend their days and nights chatting. Meanwhile, an opposing column has just hit the school’s paper called Not Your Romeo, a more pessimistic and pragmatic column arguing that romance is unrealistic and negatively impacts society. All viewers will instantly know who Not Your Romeo is, but Micki of course does not; she’s too na├»ve, unintentionally cocooned in her own world unable to fully recognize what’s happening around her.

The secondary plot involves a budding romance between Micki’s mother and her new professor, where she pretends she’s not a student, and then he creates fake names for her. Adding in a romance storyline for more mature adults is a nice touch. It is moderately humorous, but definitely not laugh-out-loud funny.

There is also an issue with the main dialogue for all the students. It’s not necessarily unrealistic because I can imagine teens trying to be clever and snarky in ways that don’t really suit them, but it does not come across as natural at all.

For those that watch indie rom-coms, the minimal budget will not be an issue, and overall Not Your Romeo & Juliet has a cute premise and is an enjoyable way to pass the time.