Hamlet (2000)

MICHAEL ALMEREYDA

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.  USA, 2000.  double A Films.  Screen adaptation by Michael Almereyda, based on the play by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by , .  Film Editing by Independent Spirit Awards 2000. National Board of Review Awards 2000.  

Following the trend of placing Shakespeare in modern settings, this very good film moves his classic tale of the moody Dane to contemporary Manhattan.  plays the title character, a video filmmaker who lives in the Hotel Elsinore (cheeky!) owned by the Denmark Corporation, once headed up by his father until his untimely death and now run by his uncle Claudius () who has also married Hamlet’s mother Gertrude (). Hamlet cannot bear the villainy he sees around him, and when he is visited by his father’s ghost () and told that he was murdered by his own brother, our hero decides to get revenge on all who have made his life miserable. Capturing the creepy atmosphere of the play while also fleshing out the characters beautifully, Michael Almereyda has come up with a film experiment that really works. The acting is top-notch with the exception of  as a painfully weak Ophelia, and the offbeat casting (including  as Polonius) really pays off. The finale is a bit of a downer (and not in the usual way), with guns replacing swords and thus dampening some of the dramatic power, but otherwise it’s a great adaptation.

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