|B+ B+ B+|
|Review by Xibo||Date seen: May 14, 2000|
|Viewing Location: Angelika, NYC||Grade: B+|
|Summary: A very novel interpretation.|
|A few years ago we had Mel Gibson's commanding performance as Hamlet, in a traditional setting. Now we have Ethan Hawke as a whiny pathetic "Gen X" loser son of the murdered CEO (King). This Hamlet is set in modern times, but the most of the script is the same, so you have everyone talking in shakespearean english, yet the background is modern-day New York City, Denmark is a corporation, and their castle is a hotel. Quite surprisingly this interpration actually works!
Ethan Hawke however, doesn't work. Or rather, his character doesn't work-- Hamlet is not a worthless pansy obsessed with playing with video recorders and other toys. Julia Stiles plays a great Ophelia, but the script never presents Hamlet as someone worth caring about. It's like Hollywood has a beef with Gen X people and has to portray them all as slacker losers. This being an "art" film, one would think they wouldn't do the usual Hollywood thing, but they do.
Billy Crystal's performance as the gravedigger in Gibson's Hamlet was so good that I guess these new bozos didn't feel like they could improve on it, so they cut the scene. No "Alas, poor Yorick", no comedic relief. Blah. The film needed it, it takes itself far too seriously. (Exception: Fortinbras plays an outsider trying to takeover Denmark corporation, as shown in copies of "USA Today".)
The commercial product placements for Blockbuster and USA Today were so obvious that I had to wonder why this was really considered an art film... the whole thing feels like a generic Hollywood production.
Bill Murray plays Polonius superbly well, and Liev Schreibner made an outstanding Laertes. Let's hope these two continue to get good gigs.
"I should put quotes here."