My biggest issue for this retelling of Romeo and Juliet was the age of a lot of the actors. Romeo and Juliet are usually young and innocent lovers, but Branagh's troupe chose to cast Lily James (Cinderella) as Juliet and Richard Madden (Game of Thrones) as Romeo. Lily James is 27 years old and Richard Madden is 30 years old, so let's keep those ages in mind. Those are both 10 years over the ages of Shakespeare's characters. To be fair, James tries to make her character younger by portraying the nervousness of a young lover. Yet, her character comes across as frantic and becomes annoying after the first hour or so. James and Madden both give decent performances, it's just hard to put them in the shoes of Romeo and Juliet. Mercutio is played by Derek Jacobi (Gladiator, The King's Speech), which is another older choice for the character. Jacobi brings great comedy and gravitas to his performance, but he is another odd choice to fill this Shakespeare role.
At first, I was not sure if I was going to write about the play because it was filmed during a live performance. During a live performance, the audience gets to look where they want to at all times. However, when an event like this is filmed the editors choose what the audience can see at certain times. One of the more interesting choices for the filming is the black and white coloring. I am not sure why they chose black and white for the film, maybe it was to give a noir tone to the viewer. Personally, I would have enjoyed seeing the real coloring of the stage and costuming, but this was the director's choice for the filming so I respect that.
The Bottom Line: Overall the play is modernized with its staging and filming, but younger viewers might struggle to relate to it because of its older cast and black-and-white color palette.