The good thing about adapting a Shakespeare play is the room to find a new narrative angle. The bad thing about adapting a Shakespeare play is how quickly it can go wrong.
The 2018 movie, Opheliais a feminist re-write of Hamlet. The title character is not the mad prince, but his love interest, Ophelia (Daisy Ridley). Raised as an unofficial daughter of Queen Gertrude (Naomi Watts), she is one of the Queen’s ladies in waiting. As with the play, Ophelia and Hamlet (George McKay) fall in love while his uncle Claudius (Clive Owen) usurps his dead brother’s throne and marries his widow. As the political turmoil and and the danger grows tenfold, she must choose between the man she loves and finding a way to survive.
Ridley is fantastic in the role, proving she can play other characters besides Rey. As is Watts, who also expands her role beyond the confines of the source material. The problem is that the promise of the drama is just that. While I would give it an A for effort, I am glad that I saw it on Netflix rather than pay money to see it in the theaters.
The topics of race relations and the relationships between parents and teenagers is often complicated.
In the new movie, Luce, (based on the play of the same name) Luce Edgar (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) is the perfect teenager. He is a star athlete, an A student, respectful, humble and hardworking. Born in the African country of Eritrea, Luce was adopted by Amy and Peter Edgar (Naomi Watts and Tim Roth), a middle class Caucasian couple.
Everything seems hunky dory until Amy is called by Luce’s history teacher, Harriet Wilson (Octavia Spencer). One of his papers has caught Miss Wilson’s eye and not for the right reasons. This paper opens the door to suspicion, questions about trust and who these characters really are.
Having never seen the play, I can only judge the narrative by the film.
The word I would use to describe this film is disappointing. There is so much potential in this film and yet it is wasted. The subjects spoken of in this film are so powerful and timely. Instead of using these subjects as a subtle teaching moment, the drama and the tension in the narrative is wasted. As is the the on screen talent.
As the film came to a close, the narrative threads did not come together. I don’t know if this was done on purpose or just laziness on the part of the screenwriters. If it was done intentionally, it was not done well. It was as if the individual parts of the narrative worked together on their own, but never quite gelled as they could have.
The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami is one of the worst natural disasters in modern history. It is estimated that a quarter of a million lives were lost and 14 countries were devastated by the both the earthquake and tsunami.
In the 2012 film, The Impossible, Maria (Naomi Watts) and Henry (Ewan McGregor) are a married couple on vacation in Thailand with their children. Then the tsunami hits and the family is torn apart in a futile attempt to outrun the sea. Will the family survive and if they do, will they be intact or mourning the loves ones who did not survive?
While the narrative could have been punched up a bit, knowing that this is based on a true story only adds to the tension and heightens the drama.