Words Alone Remain Hollow
Whilst I had issues with Baz Luhrman's "Romeo + Juliet" I liked the idea of taking a Shakespeare's play and his dialogue and then shifting it to a modern or alternative setting. Unfortunately whilst Luhrman managed to make this idea almost work I can't say that I have the same feeling about Michael Almereyda's condensed update of "Hamlet" which uses the original dialogue and so on but places the story in a modern New York City.
Now I have admitted in the past my knowledge of Shakespeare would be an embarrassment to some and that is mainly down to the lousy British education system of the 1980s when they might as well done away with teachers as all we ever did was learn from the textbook which wasn't inspiring. In fact as I watched "Hamlet" I found my mind frequently meandering off, thinking of other more productive and enjoyable things I could be doing with my time rather than enduring this and counting the minutes down to its finish. But I digress and although the only Shakespeare I studied at school was "Macbeth" the story of "Hamlet" is so well known that I am familiar with the basics. It is a good job to as I doubt anyone which watches "Hamlet" with no knowledge would be left bewildered, bordered and bamboozled.
The trouble with "Hamlet" and this update is the combination of lifeless acting delivering the Bard's work in a modern setting is as dull as dishwater. It does little to draw you in to the characters or what is happening and there are times when I am sure the look on some of the actor's faces were not them trying to get in to their parts but bewilderment over what their agents have persuaded them to do.
What this all boils down to is "Hamlet"; this attempt to cleverly bring the old words in to a current setting does not work for me and becomes incomprehensively dull. Maybe those who are bigger fans of the play will be impressed by what is on show but for those whose knowledge is more limited it is hard to follow and hard to get in to.