aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!! Almereyda’s Hamlet (“starring” Ethan Hawke) is one of the most atrocious films I have ever seen! How in the name of all that is holy did this movie win awards and get mixed reviews? Don’t even get me started on its portrayal of the play, which is heart-wrenchingly, mind-crushingly deficient. No, my complaints are much less subjective.
For example, someone forgot to inform the actors that Shakespeare left spaces between the words, so mostofthelinessoundlikethisbutdeliveredwayfasterthanyou’rereadingrightnow. The cameraman seemed to be using his elbows to maneuver the camera. The b-roll footage appeared to be lifted from an entirely different movie by an editor with ADD. Right at the beginning, there is a speech dubbed over video of an actor who is obviously forming completely different words with his mouth. The visuals were cluttered, the sets sloppy, the shot compositions senseless and the staging horrendous (examples: action cramped awkwardly into the half of the frame that isn’t being taken up by a curtain, dialogue where one person’s head completely blocks the view of the other person’s… I could go on, but I don’t have 72 minutes like the director of this hideous film did).
But the most original, startling, thought-provoking performance of all was from that boom mic, yes an entire boom mic, that reflected boldly off a window and right into my narrowed, unbelieving, pained eyes. In the director’s inept hands, the characters’ [usually tragic] deaths were mercy killings that finally released both them and me from the textbook enactment of film gaffes that is Almereyda’s Hamlet.
This version of Jane Eyre, preceded by at least 10 other movie/TV adaptations, does not build on its rich literary and filmic heritage, but is instead a limp, insipid, soulless, uninspiring husk of a movie. It is so bland and anaemic that providing detailed criticism feels a bit like punching a supermodel in the face with a hamburger.
Every aspect of the film is stifled by an overwhelming sense of apathy; instead of chemistry between actors, there are gaping black holes that suck up all the dialogue and energy. Fassbender delivers his lines in a peculiarly preoccupied way – as if he literally isn’t being paid enough to make him care and might have been illegally double-parked during filming. The screenwriter apparently decided that all the best and most dramatic scenes in the book had had their fair share of attention in previous films, so they were left out, replaced by bespoke episodes of almost painfully poor dialogue that did little to develop the characters or propel the plot. The film is only recognizable as a pale shadow of the original story. To replicate it, I would give a sleep-walking director three colors, a bored cameraman and a script composed by the grandmother of someone who had once had the story of Jane Eyre told to them while they were busy getting stoned.
Eclipsing all these failings is the unforgivable fact that the movie bored me. There was no passion, no emotional connection, not even the smug sense of superiority that comes from hating a movie for really inconsequential, snobby reasons. If you feel that you simply must watch this film, your best plan of action would probably be to make yourself a bowl of popcorn and then eat it while waving the DVD cover rapidly in front of your face for an hour. You can then throw up into the empty popcorn bowl, having had a slightly more interesting and inspiring experience than watching the actual movie.
Of course, if you are at all interested in the story, you should see the A&E version with Timothy Dalton. This version is nice because it doesn’t make you want to throw up (among other reasons).