- Director: Michael Almereyda
- Based on book: Shakespeare.
- Cast: Ethan Hawke, Julia Stiles, Diane Venora, Kyle MacLachlan, Sam Shepard, Bill Murray, Liev Schreiber, Karl Geary, Steve Zahn
- Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor/actress in:
- Ethan Hawke – Before Sunset, Tape, Snow Falling on Cedars, Gattaca, Before Sunrise, Reality Bites, Waterland, A Midnight Clear, Dead Poets’ Society
- Julia Stiles –Mona Lisa’s Smile, The Bourne Identity, O, 10 Things I Hate About You, Wide Awake
- Diane Venora – Romeo and Juliet, Surviving Picasso, Heat, Bird, Ironweed, Hamlet (Kline 1990)
- Kyle MacLachlan – Snow Falling on Cedars, The Pelican Brief, Paris, Texas,
- Bill Murray - Darjeeling Limited, Broken Flowers, Lost in Translation, The Royal Tenenbaums, Moonrise Kingdom, Cradle Will Rock, Rushmore, Ed Wood, Groundhog Day, What About Bob?, Ghostbusters
- Liev Schreiber – Repo Men, Taking Woodstock, Defiance, Kate and Leopold
- Steve Zahn – Riding in Cars with Boys, Happy Texas, You’ve Got Mail, SubUrbia, Reality Bites,
- Why bought: Hamlet
- Seen: First time: early 00’s. Now: February 8, 2013
It’s hard to let this movie be itself. While watching I kept thinking, “Oh they moved that,” or, “Oh, that’s how they’ve done that,” and “Oh, look, the Twin Peaks guy is Claudius,” but most importantly, “Clever!” or “Smart move!”
The main thing I thought, mostly, was, “Yeah, this works.”
Ethan Hawke is actually one of the best Hamlets I’ve seen – brooding, sullen, slouchy, intense. Julia Stiles rivals Helena Bonham-Carter in achieving a great Ophelia with small shifts in facial expression and cruelly reduced lines (more than half her lines were cut). Both Liev Schreiber (Laertes) and Bill Murray (Polonius) were unexpected choices but were very good and I laughed out loud to see Steve Zahn as Rosencrantz. He was perfect as a spaced out goofball. Karl Geary is unknown to me but did very well as Horatio.
I was less pleased with the portrayal of Claudius and Gertrude; these roles were reduced to cardboard figures which is sadly often the case with these two characters. The jolly lustfulness dominates and the internal anguish and uncertainty is lost. Too bad.
The setting in a world of corporate techo-frenzy works very well with some stunning scenes, especially with water. A highlight was the use of James Dean and John Gielgud doing the skull scene to represent the Players.
The ending, with a newscaster reading Fortinbras’ lines was stolen from Baz Luhrman’s Romeo and Juliet and it didn’t work very well here. So a small disappointment after a rather strong death scene.
There was good music throughout, especially over the final credits.
Well worth seeing. If you’re not a Shakespeare expert, it’s a perfectly good way to get started, but don’t stop with this. See Branagh’s version too!
4* of 5