Hamlet (2000)

"Excellent"

Hamlet (2000) Review


A new school of acting should be constructed based on the method of Ethan Hawke. I am the first to admit that I enjoy Ethan Hawke in almost anything he does. The reason I like him so much is because he brings the essence of the brooding soul to the screen so well. Hawke plays Tortured Guy so perfectly they should give an award at the Oscars every year and call it the "E. Hawke Award for Best Brooding Performance of the Year". As a natural-born brooder, the character of Hamlet perfectly suits Hawke because the role has always been given to older guys looking to validate their dramatic acting chops. Hawke's Hamlet is the Generation X Hamlet. A Hamlet that uses his "discontent" with the world as a razor against the neck of reality.

This updated 20th century Hamlet is brought to vivid realism by independent director Michael Almereyda. Almereyda places the play in the year 2000, creating the state of Denmark as a huge conglomerate, the slain king a CEO, and Hamlet as a digital video maker. This interpretation sounds almost like it's going to be as much fun as a ten-car pileup on the expressway; you want to turn your head away from in disgust but are strangely curious about what happened.

The surprise is that this is one of the best versions of Hamlet. Almereyda has studied every film and stage version of the play, and his history lessons have paid off. He creates a stark, unflinching vision of a dangerous world where trust is a lost commodity and betrayal is weapon.

Hawke carries the vehicle well with his unflinching performance of a haunted man pushed to the brink, finding solace among the haunting visions of dead souls and images he captures with his camera. The supporting cast of Kyle Machlachan, Julia Stiles, Diane Venora, Bill Murray-- doing a damn good job with the dialogue -- and Sam Shepard are surprising in their ability to convey the motivations of the characters. Almereyda does an incredible job of taking the text and rearranging the structure to capture a better essence of Hamlet as it exists in the 21st century. The most enjoyable scene is when Hamlet recites the "To Be or Not to Be" while he is walking up and down the aisles of a Blockbuster Video. The imagery of the enormity of the aisles and the sense of Hamlet lost within a world of escapism is haunting and strangely unnerving. Julia Stiles equally provides a quiet reserve to the character of Ophelia and her muted voice speaks strongly in scenes as others determine her fate for her.

Michael Almeryda's Hamlet is dangerous and sharp-edged. It retains a clear hold of the text and doesn't try to dress up the scenes with numerous cuts and flashy imagery. The actors smoothly roll through the acts and do not drag things down with dramatic flair. Speakerphones, video, digital still photos, laptops, and cell phones are used as not only showpieces, but also as valid devices to communicate the play's text. If more classic plays can be updated with such brilliance, maybe more people will put down their Backstreet Boys biographies and pick a Hemingway novel or a Shakespearean play and start to understand the world around us.

Hamming it up.



Facts and Figures

Box Office Worldwide: $1.6M

Budget: $2M

Production compaines: Miramax Films, double A Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Cast & Crew

Starring: as Hamlet, as Claudius, as Gertrude, as Ghost, as Ophelia, as Polonius, as Laertes, as Horatio, as Marcella, as Rosencrantz, as Gravedigger, as Fortinbras, as Flight Captain

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

The latest adaptation of Agatha Christie's 83-year-old classic whodunit, this lavish, star-studded film is old-style...

Paddington 2 Movie Review

Paddington 2 Movie Review

The first Paddington movie in 2014 is already such a beloved classic that it's hard...

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

Everyone's back from last year's undemanding adult comedy, plus some starry new cast members, for...

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Filmmaker S. Craig Zahler brought a blast of offbeat creativity to the Western genre two...

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

Fans of the film In the Loop and the TV series Veep will definitely not...

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Set in northern Italy in the summer of 1983, this internationally flavoured drama is a...

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

The most riotously enjoyable Marvel movie yet, this action epic benefits hugely from the decision...

Advertisement
Breathe Movie Review

Breathe Movie Review

While this biopic has the standard sumptuous production values of a British period drama, it's...

The Snowman Movie Review

The Snowman Movie Review

With a cast and crew packed with A-list talent, this film seems like it should...

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.