OPHELIA – Review by Sheila Roberts

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Ophelia was originally a pivotal yet secondary character in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, but in the capable hands of Australian filmmaker Claire McCarthy, the classic tragedy is transformed into a captivating, femme-centric reimagining told from Ophelia’s perspective.

Masterfully directed by McCarthy from a script by Semi Chellas, adapted from the young adult novel by Lisa Klein, Ophelia features strong performances by Daisy Ridley (Ophelia), Naomi Watts (Queen Gertrude), Tom Felton (Laertes), Clive Owen (King Claudius), and George MacKay (Hamlet).

The film shines on the screen thanks to an abundance of lush production values that have been capably realized by an expert creative team. Noteworthy are the contributions of DP Denson Baker, editor Luke Dunkley, composer Steven Price, production designer David Warren and costume designer Massimo Cantini Parrini.

Like the classic tale, this thrilling reinterpretation explores themes of love, romance, melancholy, loss, madness, treachery and revenge set against a terrifying backdrop of court intrigue involving powerful, competing forces. The headstrong Ophelia, groomed at an early age to serve as one of Queen Gertrude’s trusted ladies-in-waiting at Elsinore Castle, must learn how to cope with the jealous machinations of her co-workers as well as the affections of a passionate young prince destined to ascend the throne.

When the kingdom finds itself on the brink of invasion by Norway and destabilized by sudden betrayal from within, Ophelia struggles to follow her heart. She must draw on her finely honed instincts and political acumen if she is to survive the dangerous crosscurrents of a repressive, male-dominated society and take control of her destiny.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ophelia is AWFJ’s Movie of the Week for July 5, 2019

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Sheila Roberts

Sheila Roberts is a Native Angeleno and alum of UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television where I graduated with Masters degrees in Producing and Cinema & Media Studies. Over the years, she has written about film and entertainment for Collider, MoviesOnline, Hollywood News Wire, MovieScope Magazine, and Cineplex Entertainment, among other outlets.