Lawrence O'Toole
July 26, 1991 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Hamlet

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
112 minutes
performer
Ethan Hawke, Bill Murray, Julia Stiles, Kyle MacLachlan, Liev Schreiber, Diane Venora
director
Michael Almereyda
distributor
Double A Films
author
Michael Almereyda
genre
Drama

We gave it a C+

Director Franco Zeffirelli, no stranger to bringing Shakespeare to the younger generation (remember 1968’s bare-bottomed Romeo and Juliet?), has wrought a soft-focus Hamlet for the children of MTV. Okay: If Mel Gibson can turn youngsters on to Shakespeare, this ho-hum Hamlet will have served its purpose. More sophisticated viewers, however, should not expect any new dramatic revelations or a central performance to knock anyone’s tights off. The melancholy Dane, enacted by a strawberry-blond Mel Gibson, is more a melancholy baby given to temper tantrums and major pouting. As his possibly adulterous mother, Gertrude, Glenn Close is both seductive and, beneath an ingenuous manner, extraordinarily cunning; yet from the looks of things, she must have had him when she was 3. Graduate viewers are steered instead toward the classic 1948 Laurence Olivier production, which had extraordinary atmosphere, or the eccentric 1969 Nicol Williamson version, which had brains. C+

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