Blu-ray O [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray 16033164),
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Director Tim Blake Nelson sets Shakespeare's OTHELLO in a modern day private high school and the result is a dark, somber teen tragedy. Mekhi Phifer (CLOCKERS) stars as Odin James, an African American star basketball player at the otherwise all-white school. The coach of the team (Martin Sheen) loves Odin like a son, which causes real son Hugo (Josh Hartnett) to squirm with jealousy and plan an elaborate revenge. Julia Stiles (a modern dress Shakespeare regular, having also co-starred in HAMLET and TEN THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU) is Desi, the virginal daughter of the dean, with whom Odin is in love. The ensuing outburst of tragic teen violence is a shocking denouement that elevates the already dangerous mood of the film to full-fledged terror.
Because of the intense violence in the film, it was shelved for years by a nervous Miramax in the wake of the real-life Columbine high school massacre. Finally, it was picked up by Lion's Gate Films. Upon viewing the film, such worry seems needless, as the film does nothing to glorify the violence it depicts. It explores themes of class, race, and all-consuming jealousy. Shakespeare's original dialogue is abandoned in favor of hip-hop-flavored modern language, but the tale's timeless relevance remains unaltered.
Josh Hartnett, Mekhi Phifer, Julia Stiles, John Heard, Eldon Henson, Andrew Keegan, Rain Phoenix, Martin Sheen, Ramon Estevez, A.J. Johnson
"...A lean, mean high school tragedy....O comes across as a potent drama, extremely well-acted by its lads....Phifer and Stiles are splendid young actors and give off plenty of heat..."
"...An affecting heart-breaker....[Odin displays] charm and natural ability....Kaaya and Blake Nelson remain remarkably faithful to Shakespeare's oft-told tale..."
"...The central themes of OTHELLO translate thrillingly to a contemporary setting....Powerful....This is a stunning portrait of evil that makes it clear Hartnett is a real actor and not just another pretty face..."
Movieline's Hollywood Life
"...O does understand and successfully trade on the undeniable power of its celebrated innocence-destroyed plotline....[Essential] is Hartnett's low-key, charismatic performance -- cool, withholding, compelling..."
Los Angeles Times
"...Artful and emotionally compelling....O is disturbing, but in all the right ways....O responsibly examines the origins and repercussions of deceit and brutality..."
"...[Nelson] displays a confident eye, sometimes rigorously formal, sometimes almost abstract..."
Sight and Sound
"...A film that displays some good visual instincts and talent with actors..."
"...The leads are uniformly strong, Phifer genuinely outstanding, and the dynamic court scenes will exhilarate regardless of your feelings towards basketball..."
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