Review: Ophelia (Sundance)

Ophelia (Sundance)
3 10

PLOT: Shakespeare’s Hamlet, as re-imagined from the perspective of his lover, Ophelia (Daisy Ridley).

REVIEW: OPHELIA is the worst thing to happen to Shakespeare since Roland Emmerich’s Oxfordian theory film, ANONYMOUS. However well-intentioned it may be, it plays like some studio exec from the 21st century travelled back in time to the 15th century and gave Shakespeare notes to follow while he was writing his play. “Bill, listen – we love this Hamlet guy, but you know who the kids REALLY love? Ophelia? So why does it have to be so depressing? And does everyone have to die? Bill! BILL!!! Lighten up!”

I’m not exaggerating when I say that I’ve seen “Wishbone” adaptations that were more sophisticated than this. OPHELIA, in the right hands, could have been an interesting deconstruction of perhaps the most famous work of fiction of all time, but it needed to be infinitely smarter to pass muster. Instead this adaptation plays out like (bad) fanfic, stranding Daisy Ridley in the lead, and embarrassing the large cast who’ve been saddled with the silliest dialogue outside of FIFTY SHADES OF GREY (the film literally starts with Ridley’s Ophelia telling the audience, “if you think you know my story, think again.”).

To give her credit, director Claire McCarthy has mounted a beautifully looking film, with excellent period costumes and lush cinematography (if one can forgive Clive Owen’s horrible wig). Were this a straight adaptation, the casting wouldn’t be half bad, with George MacKay fine as the melancholy Dane, even if he seems more like a shitty high school brat than the Prince of Denmark. As Claudius, Owen seems to realize what kind of movie he’s in, so he camps it up appropriately. Naomi Watts is stuck playing dual roles, both Gertrude and a kind of witch advisor straight out of “Game of Thrones”, who keeps her and Claudius youthful (they literally smoke herbs like crack – NOT the silliest part of the movie).

Through it all, Ridley tries to give Ophelia some spunk, although she’s not helped by the script, especially when she’s playing Ophelia as pretending to be insane – making it feel – for a time – like we’re watching a bad high school play version of Hamlet that the drama teacher rewrote (actually, HAMLET 2 is a lot less silly). Scenes abide of people falling dead from behind curtains, while the pop-score drives home the point that, lofty Sundance premiere aside, this was likely made for a teen audience. A more creative reimagining would have been more in-line with what they’re trying doing here. In a world where THE TAMING OF THE SHREW was reworked into 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU and EMMA became CLUELESS, OPHELIA doesn’t seem very cutting edge. If you’re going to take on Shakespeare, you’ve got to be clever about it, and in that sense, OPHELIA never even comes close to working.

Source: JoBlo.com



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