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In praise of - Leonardo DiCaprio.

One of my favourite movies from my younger years, Romeo + Juliet, was screened on TV on Thursday night, in honour of Valentine's day.

It stars my teenage crush: Leonardo DiCaprio. When I first saw this movie in 1996, aged 13, I fell hard for DiCaprio and developed a crazy obsession with him, which lasted throughout my teenage years.

Re-watching the film, I could see why he tickled my fancy back in the day. In the scene where Romeo appears for the first time, he is filmed at sunset looking dark and brooding. I remembered that it was at that very moment that I first fell for him and my obsession with tragic romance was born.

Compared to him, no other boy could measure up. Even though his side-parted "curtains" hairdo became the look du jour among the boys at my high school, none of them carried it off with aplomb like DiCaprio. None even came close, frankly.

My crush strengthened a few years later when a trip to the cinema to watch DiCaprio play Jack Dawson in Titanic turned into an absolute sob-fest. The role turned DiCaprio into a bona fide A-list heart-throb.

And then DiCaprio did something surprising and turned his back on me and his hordes of teenage fans and opted for arty films and character roles. His choices included critically acclaimed films such as The Departed, Revolutionary Road and Inception.

DiCaprio lost his boyish good looks somewhere along the way but gained something even better: talent and industry respect. Now he has taken on another big tragic romance role by playing the part of Jay Gatsby in the new film version of The Great Gatsby, which will be released in May. Maybe, just maybe, in this film he will succeed in capturing my heart once again.

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