Main cast: Ethan Hawke (Hamlet), Julia Stiles (Ophelia), Kyle MacLachlan (Claudius), Sam Shepard (Ghost of Hamlet’s father), Diane Venora (Gertrude), Bill Murray (Polonius), Liev Schreiber (Laertes), Steve Zahn (Rosencrantz), Dechen Thurman (Guildenstern), Jeffrey Wright (Gravedigger), and Casey Affleck (Fortinbras)
Director: Michael Almereyda
Finally, a movie that actually shows Hamlet as what he really is – a neurotic weirdo who takes his Oedipal complexes way too far. Ethan Hawke plays his role as if he’s high on amphetamines, and I say that’s just it.
Hamlet, if you don’t know, is a play by the William Shakespeare. It’s a silly little story about a prince who deludes himself into believing that his father’s ghost is telling him that his uncle (now stepfather) murdered him. Lucky him, he happens to be right, but his vengeance comes at the cost of literally everything.
One can see it as a piece of story about how tragic revenge can be. Or, like in this movie which has Hamlet brought to 21th century, one can see it as a tale of a self-absorbed, too-rich, too-bored twit (Hamlet) who has to find desperate, extreme ways to fill the void he never even knows he have at the expense of everyone around him.
This movie is fun. For instance, Julia Stiles is amazing as the underwritten Ophelia, and there’s an inspired scene where she throws polaroids of flowers instead of the real things to mourn her father. Like her, Hamlet is also an aimless, supposedly bohemian artist, making rather silly movies to fill his meaningless life. They could’ve gotten a hobby and avoided all the nonsense in this story, but no. Kids.
The cast plays their roles superbly, although I find Bill Murray annoying as usual. Them and the flashy scenes – arty without coming off as pretentious (check out Hamlet plotting murder in a Blockbuster video store, heh heh) – elevate this movie from flashy eye candy to being actually something substantial.