Movie Review by Alice Castle
Starring: Mekhi Phifer, Josh Hartnett, Julia Stiles, Elden Henson, Andrew Keegan, Rain Phoenix
Director: Tim Blake Nelson
First TEN THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU, (‘The Taming of the Shrew’), then GET OVER IT (‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’), ROMEO & JULIET and now O – Shakespeare brought to a High School audience yet again in Tim Blake Nelson’s modern adaptation of ‘Othello’. Unlike Baz Luhrmann’s approach in ROMEO & JULIET, the script has been adapted to suit a young audience but the tale of trust, jealousy and revenge is the same.
Othello is Odin (Mekhi Phifer), a talented young black basketball player – cherry picked by an East Coast prep school to bring fortune to the school basketball team. Surrounded by privileged, white boys – Odin is the only black student in the school and has managed to win over the girls and the teachers with his charm and prowess on the basketball court. All should be well – the team are forging ahead in the High School league – and Odin has managed to net the most beautiful girl in the school, daughter of the Dean Desi (Desdemona) (Julia Stiles). But boys will be boys and in a school like Palmetto Grove, fiercely competitive. Fellow teammate and son of the basketball coach, Hugo Goulding (Josh Hartnett) becomes insanely jealous of Odin’s success and the attention he receives from the other boys and his father. Just as Iago plots Othello’s downfall, Hugo weaves an elaborate plot to bring Odin down. And as we’re talking North America here, it’s not just a fight in the playground, but more like a full-scale Columbine.
Excellent performances from Stiles, Hartnett and Phifer, as well as good supporting roles from Martin Sheen as the basketball coach and Hugo’s father. Let’s hope it brings the bard alive for the next generation of GCSE English students.