⋆⋆ out of four stars Theater: Lagoon.
Stunning locations in the Italian cities of Verona and Mantua almost make up for the rather disastrous casting at the heart of this production. How 17-year-old Hailee Steinfeld managed to look younger and more romantically innocent than she did in “True Grit,” which filmed four years ago, is anybody’s guess. Almost as big a mystery is why they cast this overmatched actress as the teen who inspires this immortal line: “I never knew true beauty until this night.”
Romeo (Douglas Booth) is the real beauty here, a pretty toy boy who doesn’t have a lot of camera charisma, either. The two of them make for a bland, lines-mumbling couple in an otherwise lovely and lively take on the classic play. Paul Giamatti steals the picture as the helpful Friar Lawrence, trying not to stand in the way of love. Julian Fellowes (“Downton Abbey”) did this adaptation, with Italian director Carlo Carlei, who’s in over his head. (Rated PG-13.)