starring Daisy Ridley, Naomi Watts, George MacKay, Clive Owen
written by Semi Chellas, based on the novel by Lisa Klein
directed by Claire McCarthy
by Alice Stoehr A century ago, English animator Anson Dyer adapted Hamlet into a one-reel satirical cartoon. A couple of years later, Danish actress Asta Nielsen played her melancholy countryman, recontextualizing him as a woman. Since then, filmmakers have transposed the Bard's source material into the beer industry, the animal kingdom, and (on several occasions) the corporate boardroom. Film history, in other words, is full of revisionist precedent for Ophelia, which begins with its title character floating in a brook as she intones in voiceover, "You may think you know my story... It is high time I should tell you my story myself." Daisy Ridley--Rey of Star Wars fame--stars as this strong-willed young woman, done up like a Pre-Raphaelite painting with long red tresses. Quick with a turn of phrase, she registers unease in her hazel eyes and indignation in her jaw. Her Ophelia would rather go for a swim than attend to the queen, and the other ladies-in-waiting tease her for her coarseness. Screenwriter and "Mad Men" alum Semi Chellas, working from the 2006 YA novel by Lisa Klein, retells Hamlet's tragedy from the women's point of view. She begins decades before the play, with Polonius's arrival at Elsinore and his daughter's courtly education. The film builds into a Shakespearean Revenge of the Sith, depicting Hamlet's meet-cute with Ophelia, his growing rivalry with his uncle, and his rage when he learns of his father's death. At each turn, new twists reshape a familiar story.