Arts & EntertainmentMoviesMovies Now

Review: 'Hamlet,' as postwar soap opera

ReviewsDenmark

Actor-turned-first-time-director Bruce Ramsay recasts "Hamlet" as a soap opera, setting Shakespeare's tragedy in post-World War II London instead of medieval Denmark, eschewing any mention of the play's encroaching war with Norway and compressing several months into one fateful night. The result is a focused, if at times melodramatic, take on the play's beating heart.

Ramsay also stars as the Prince of Denmark, although it's unclear whether his family is meant to be literal royalty or metaphorical aristocrats. Confusing matters more is the setting: a mansion oddly bare of furnishings and decoration, aside from some pink ribbons and a pile of presents from the wedding of Hamlet's mother, Gertrude (Gillian Barber), to Claudius (Peter Wingfield), the brother of her dead husband. 

BEST MOVIES OF 2013: Turan | Sharkey | Olsen

Or is it a hotel? For there's a number on the door of the room where the ghost of Hamlet's father (Russell Roberts) hangs out, in this version in corporeal form, waiting for his son to wreak revenge for his murder.

Ramsay makes some smart choices, opting only to mime the play-within-the-play that exposes his father's killer and employing striking camera angles to lend drama during his character's storied soliloquies. (The dialogue is abridged from the Bard's original text.) But overall, his interpretation of "Hamlet" lacks the creative juice that fueled, for example, Joss Whedon's "Much Ado About Nothing."

"Hamlet." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 27 minutes. At Arena Cinema, Hollywood. Also on VOD.

calendar@latimes.com 

PHOTOS AND MORE PHOTOS: Faces to watch 2014 | Movies ENVELOPE: The latest awards buzz DOCUMENTARIES: 10 best of 2013, and a new crop in 2014      


Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
ReviewsDenmark
  • Biggest box office flops of 2013
    Biggest box office flops of 2013

    For every "Frozen" and "Fast & Furious 6" in 2013 there was a "Fifth Estate" or "47 Ronin." It was a year of record revenue for Hollywood, with big-budget sequels such as "Iron Man 3," "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" and "Despicable Me 2" at the front of the pack. Studios also came out...

  • Review: 'Jamesy Boy,' an inside-the-pen drama, a bit too predictable
    Review: 'Jamesy Boy,' an inside-the-pen drama, a bit too predictable

    'Jamesy Boy' boasts a cast that includes Ving Rhames, Mary-Louise Parker and James Woods, as well as a solid central performance by Spencer Lofranco. Still, its tale of reform is awfully familiar.

Comments
Loading