There are so many interpretations and retellings of classic works that to make one different, interesting, and in this case charming and fresh is a hard feat to accomplish. Thankfully though Joan Carr-Wiggin pulls double duty as director and screenwriter. She manages to give us a wholly new interpretation of Romeo and Juliet. She also gives us a film that is effortlessly charming, funny, insightful and downright lovely. There is so much going for A Grand Romantic Gesture that will leave your soul feeling fulfilled and your heart satisfied.
The movie focuses on Ava (Gina McKee) as she has just lost her job and her oblivious husband, Matthew (Rod Stewart) thinks to enroll her in a cooking class. He wants to distract her and make her less depressed. The fact is that she is now not working and has nothing but time on her hands. However, very early on she realizes she absolutely hates the cooking class with a fiery passion. And when the opportunity arises to leave the class to go into an acting class she jumps at the chance without hesitation.
As the class begins, the director announces they’re doing Romeo and Juliet. He has a little too much of an ego and decides to change the script almost entirely. That’s due to his girlfriend being too interested in the Romeo. This leads to Ava and Simon (Douglas Hodge) being the titular characters of the play. Their home lives are less than ideal, and they find more chemistry than they initially expected after day one of rehearsal. Their lives take a turn for the most interesting, and the consequences of their actions get weighed.
What makes A Grand Romantic Gesture work so well is the modernization of the classic tale of Romeo and Juliet without rehashing the tale for the umpteenth time. This is new, fresh, and charming because its middle aged people and not teenagers being obnoxious. There are real stakes in this telling. It’s not just teenagers wanting to be with one another. Decisions can affect real lives. This film takes the overdone story and gives these characters to a middle aged protagonists and shine a light on that aspect of age. That spin brings some much needed charm, levity, and new perspective to the overdone and tiring classic story.
As well, the performances from both Gina McKee and Douglas Hodge are nothing shy of exceptional. Their chemistry is so organic and refreshing. It is driven by nothing more than a desire to be wanted and escape their tired relationships. There is something so deeply humanistic and beautiful about their raw performance that is also endearing and charming. It elevates the entire film. It is the simplicity of their raw performance that brings forth such a strong connection to the audience. Two people fight for what they want. Shenanigans occur to the characters themselves. And the secondary cast all together bring forth a film that will leave audiences delighted.