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Hamlet (2000)
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Review Date: May 30, 2000
Director: Michael Almereyda
Writer: Michael Almereyda
Producers: Andrew Fierberg and Amy Hobby
Actors:
Ethan Hawke as Hamlet
Kyle MacLachlan as Claudius
Bill Murray as Polonius
Julia Stiles as Ophelia
Plot:
The President of the Denmark Corporation is dead. To everyone's surprise, the widow quickly remarries his brother soon thereafter, leaving son Hamlet wondering about the nefarious behind-the-scenes shenanigans of it all. Of course, when the ghost of Hamlet's dad comes to visit him with some more news regarding his untimely demise, it isn't long before everybody and their uncle begin to suspect Hamlet of going mad. Revenge, death and a lot of hip, modern-day gadgets ensue.
Critique:
Decent enough for a film whose dialogue was mostly Greek to me, this movie scores points on style and acting, but ultimately runs too long, features one too many monologues and just completely lost me in the end. Strangely enough, I actually did enjoy this picture early on, with its modern day setting, its hip leading man, and its solid score, but as the film drove on further and further, I soon found myself straining to figure out what the heck was happening. In the end, I just couldn't get by with just the "gist" of the conversations, I really needed to know what these people were babbling about, but unfortunately for me, the dialogue was just a little too "Shakespeare" to decipher. Having said that, the film also seemed to lack the proper character development, especially in the case of Ophelia and Hamlet, whose "romance" I never really bought into.

On the other hand, I did enjoy most all of the performances in the film, especially Bill Murray, an actor who I was extremely skeptical about before seeing the film. In the end, he won me over with a sort of flighty performance of Polonius, delivering his lines with much authenticity, while still being able to inject it all with a little bit of that "Murray" charm. Julia Stiles was also quite charming and nice to look at, despite her character's lack of true involvement in the story, and Ethan Hawke certainly delivered a good rendition of Hamlet, the slick techno-geek with a little bit of a head case. I also liked the whole look and feel of the flick, which was actually shot entirely in New York City, but didn't care much for the pacing of it all. After a strong start, it seemed as though, every now and again, the characters would slow the whole thing down with long conversations with one another, or better yet, inner-monologues with themselves. Now I imagine this sort of thing might work in a play, or certainly in a book, but when you're watching people babble on about something which you barely understand for a minutes on end...well, it gets kinda lame after a while.

Of course, I would definitely recommend this to any true Shakespeare fan, only as to compare it to all the others, and even some non-fans, if you like any of the actors, who truly do shine in this film (yes, even Kyle MacLachlan was pretty good). Most anyone else could certainly miss this film and not worry too much about the impact that it will have on their lives. I liked it better than most of the other stuffy Shakespeare flicks, but in the end, this one just packed in too much of that ol' Bard dialogue, and not enough coherence.
(c) 2017 Berge Garabedian
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