A new retelling of the famous play set in 14th Century Elsinore from the Bard turns out to wallow in its foppery as sumptuously mounted as it is.
Ophelia churns its way (through the structure of its antecedent, though providing earlier background) from a vantage point based on a 2006 Young Adult novel by Lisa Klein and adapted by Semi Chellas with a familiar watery image at the start that conjures up a doomed soul.
Yet “you may think you know my story” lets a revisionist mannered way by helming Claire McCarthy repurpose a sorry victim with urgency utilizing a gender and class angle.
Having Daisy Ridley (The Last Jedi, also the updated Murder on the Orient Express) as the grown-up titular young woman (from a tomboyish girl) looks to be promising with her presence (of intellect and sturdiness) as she’ll be a source of attraction for Danish prince Hamlet (George MacKay of Captain Fantastic noticed to have eye-liner).
A derided woman (lacking nobility) finds her way into the employ of Queen Gertrude (Naomi Watts) from her literacy acumen though a budding romance coincides with the scheming Claudius, an emotive, brutish Clive Owen, locked into what his brother (Hamlet’s dad) has; all the while reveling in his closeness with Gertrude. Watts, the acclaimed British-Australian actress, gets to have another part of an apothecary, while her conflicted character must deal with the malevolence and personal torment that makes for an unusual bond with her handmaiden.
The dialogue is given the New Age makeover that may revile some purists in this deliverance of sorts with machinations aplenty set on matters of grave consequence. Many may argue of Ridley and MacKay having an inviting enough affinity during what can seem cloying. Nevertheless, the rendered passages can be as excessive or as grievous as an overwrought score which is cogent in all the wrong ways. The agent of empowerment can be applauded for a while until concluding chaotic carnage ironically makes Ophelia and its lead feel subsidiary.