Most of the way through, Daisy Ridley holds our attention as Hamlet’s lover.
Ophelia was Hamlet’s lover in the William Shakespeare tale, and a writer by the name of Lisa Klein gave readers her perspective during the tragedy. I’ve only been familiar with the original story, and it’s been interesting to see how the girl gets tangled in the story.
The film “Ophelia,” directed by Claire McCathy, is imperfect, because of how it sometimes goofs off and how a little obvious the story is. But on a positive note, it does give the main heroine strong will and independence, and it casts some very fine actors with the right potential.
You know the story of “Hamlet.” His father, the king, is murdered by his brother Claudius, who seized the throne and his wife, and the young prince comes face-to-face with him.
The movie shows Ophelia (Daisy Ridley) as the daughter of a fish seller, who becomes Queen Gertrude’s (Naomi Watts) lady-in-waiting. Despite the gender deformation of women being illiterates, she knows how to read thanks to her brother Laertes (Tom Felton). Hamlet (George MacKay) becomes attracted to her, and she keeps her independence, while returning her feelings for him. And Claudius (Clive Owen) becomes the king, much to Hamlet’s chagrin.
Ophelia often visits a witch named Mechtild (also played by Watts) in the woods for the queen’s youth tonic. Upon those visits, she discovers Claudius’ satanic deeds, among other secrets.
Sometimes, it plays like a comedy when Ophelia uses her words, and when Hamlet tries to get with her. I laughed a little at times, and there’s a pond scene with these two that I find whimsical, but I also wondered if the movie was supposed to have a funny bone.
Again, I don’t know her perspective, so it’s hard to say if the plot is accurate. But what I do recommend about the movie is the acting and strength.
Ridley, of “Star Wars” fame, is able to expand her horizons, by playing a smart woman, who uses her words to defend herself and her rights. She’s given lovely red hair and well-design costumes, but more importantly, she wants to act as a woman, not a piece of meat.
Owen is exceptional as Claudius, because of his charms and charisma that convinces us he is a monster without all those movie villain cliches. Watts is flexible as both the Queen and Mechtild, thanks to her make-up, expressions, and emotions. And Devon Terrell offers some fine supporting work as Hamlet’s friend Horatio. These are the stars of the show.
This version is also one of those movies not to use the Shakespearian dialogue. I’m not trying to insult anyone or the famous poet himself; I’m just saying it’s helpful to those unfamiliar with the language. A worse example was the Hailee Steinfeld version of “Romeo & Juliet,” but that’s all in the past.
“Ophelia” is no masterpiece, but it does give women their rights and words, thanks to Klein’s story and Semi Chelas’ screenplay.