Ophelia | Chicago Reader
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Ophelia

One facet of Shakespeare’s mostly timeless Hamlet has not aged well, and that is the fuzzy, underwritten role of Ophelia, the doomed lover of the titular Danish prince. The lacunae in her story have long ached to be filled, which makes this reimagining of the classic tale from Ophelia’s perspective first and foremost an overdue curiosity. The film itself, on its hazily lit surface, is as beautiful and shrewd as its heroine (Daisy Ridley) and the queen she serves (Naomi Watts). But when each new year brings at least one new Shakespeare adaptation to the stage or screen, it helps to offer something more than a fresh take, like a singular visual style or inventive storytelling mode. Though it's refreshing to see the angry men of Hamlet filtered through a female gaze, director Claire McCarthy and screenwriter Semi Challas play it safe with the film’s rather conventional aesthetic, setting, structure, and tone. Bursts of cheekiness and even some silliness are welcome when they arrive, but overall, the picture is nowhere near as memorable as other more controversial twists on misunderstood women of history and fiction, or a combination of the two. Take for example, Sofia Coppola’s eye-catching and heart-pummeling satire Marie Antoinette (2006), which contains individual shots that hit harder than anything conjured here.

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