Written by: Jaime Winston
Daisy Ridley follows her own path as Ophelia in Aussie director Claire McCarthy’s Hamlet reimagining that breaks away from tradition.
“Ophelia” includes memorable scenes from Shakespeare’s masterpiece—Ophelia’s father Polonius and Claudius (Clive Owen) eavesdropping on Hamlet (George McKay) and her, the “Mousetrap Play,” Ophelia dealing out flowers—but changes the context of those situations to make Ophelia the one we’re cheering on. Early on, we see Ophelia as a bold little girl, not afraid to confront the king. Later, as a lady in waiting to Gertrude (Naomi Watts), she seems happiest spending time outdoors alone, becoming an outcast among her peers. It’s her strong-willed, peculiar nature that attracts Prince Hamlet, and the two fall in love. But Ophelia is much more than a love interest. After meeting accused witch/herbalist Mechtild (also Naomi Watts), she learns Claudius’ secret, beyond his affair with Gertrude and hand in the king’s death, and gains knowledge that may help her find freedom when her world falls apart.
While traditionalists my scoff at the liberties “Ophelia” takes, it’s refreshing to hear her side of the story—not just see her deceive Hamlet, go mad and die. The film offers witty dialogue that doesn’t break far from Shakespeare (as Hamlet launches his “To be, or not to be” soliloquy, we’re a little more focused on Ophelia), and, shot in the Czech Republic, stunning scenery to go with a score that you’re okay with dunking you in and then completely drowning you.
Before you see it, pick up the book.
Of course, you can also see Shakespeare’s version of the story, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, this March at the Broadway Centre.
Saturday, Jan. 27, 8:30 p.m., Prospector, Park City