Mekhi Phifer, Julia Stiles, Martin Sheen, Josh Hartnett,
O is a movie starring Mekhi Phifer, Julia Stiles, and Martin Sheen. An update of Shakespeare's 'Othello' with a young cast, set in an upper class prep school, & centered around basketball player Odin.
  • 6.1 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • William Shakespeare, Brad Kaaya, Writer:
  • Tim Blake Nelson, Director:
  • Daniel Fried, Eric Gitter, Anthony Rhulen, Producer:

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10 / 10

O soars high

Critics have accused Tim Blake Nelson's cinematic version of Shakespeare's Othello,of 'glorifying' violence in a school setting,but i strongly disagree,and believe that this somewhat controversial film should be viewed by teenagers.It explores the origins of school violence and how teen angst can lead to tragedy.The film communicates a powerful message that no teenager is incapable of taking their jealousy to extremes,and O's superb cast of young actors effectively demonstrate how treachery and envy can lead to tragedy.Quite correctly,the film is aimed at a teenage audience,with a smorgasboard of hot young talent.Mehki Phifer,portrays Odin,the star basketball player who has everything going for him,until his 'friend' Hugo (Josh Hartnett) is overcome with his emotions and envy for Odin that he devotes his time and effort to destroying his life,which he ultimately succeeds in doing.Phifer is remarkable in his role,but Hartnett steals the show in a performance that he's never outdone.Hartnett was perfectly cast as the dark,manipulative and evil character,and its hard to pick a flaw in his performance.Julia Stiles also performs well as Desi Brable,the sweet,smart and pretty girlfriend of Odin.O is a gripping tale based on love,friendship,betrayal and deceit,issues which are effectively explored and given the importance they need in the film.It is hard-hitting and confronting,and not easily forgotten.Excessive explicit language,graphic violence and a very disturbing sex scene are most memorable.What hits hardest is how the characters treat each other,and there are scenes that are difficult to sit through,but its important that you do.O leaves you drained,but its nothing less than a masterpiece.Don't expect any sugar coating either;there isn't any.Finally,a teen film which is raw and real.

8 / 10

Disturbing but fascinating

Retelling of Shakespeare's "Othello" set in the year 2000 with high school kids. I've never read "Othello" so I don't know how faithful this is. An alienated high school kid (Josh Hartnett) ignored by his basketball coach father (Martin Sheen chewing the scenery), plots to destroy Odin (Mekhi Phifer) a star player his father adores. Tragedy follows. Fast-paced, somber and disturbing. The characters talk and act like real kids--you get to know and understand them so the violence that erupts at the end is very upsetting. Excellent acting, especially by Julia Stiles (as Odin's girlfriend Desi), Phifer and Hartnett (who's absolutely chilling). The only bad acting is by Sheen--way too over the top. This is an extreme film--lots of swearing, a disturbing sex scene and the killings at the end. Worth seeing but depressing. Sat on the shelf for 2 years because Miramax was afraid of it. Good thing Lions Gate bought it and released it.

8 / 10

Strong and chilling.

In these dark times when it seems like at least 95 % of all the teen-movies that are made are trying to copy "American Pie", this is the kick in the butt that the genre needs.

Shakespeare's classical play Othello has been somewhat rewritten to fit the silverscreen and the 21st century better. The theme of revenge, love and jealousy remains intact but the settings have been changed. Great actors in the three leading roles (Stiles, Phifer, Hartnett) makes this movie feel alive, and the cursing and violence makes it feel even more real. The ending is scary and sad, and it makes you think for a long time after you've seen it.

Along with "Donnie Darko" and "Ghost World", this is one of the best movies aimed at teens I've seen.

***/****

7 / 10

Likeable remake of Shakespeare's Othello.

This was generally a good film, well above average but no where near great. It definitely highlights the theme of 'Everything comes full Circle,' which the Title 'O,' implies. It also concentrates on minor themes such as racism and exploits the human emotions of jealousy and love and how it is such a tender thing which can be easily manipulated. It also portrays how dangerous love is ... as we understand that if Odin didn't really love Desi he wouldn't have gone to such extremes when he discovered her 'betrayal.'

Most of the acting was mediocre at best. I am surprised that Julia Stiles (playing Desi Brable) played an important character but had little screen time, her character Desi was also a little nondescript (compared to Shakespeare's version of her character, Desdemona, who is much more interesting and expresses the virtues of goodness and honesty much more effectively). Elden Henson, Andrew Keegan and Rain Phoenix (Roger Rodriguez, Michael Cassio and Emily respectively), playing supporting roles also gave mediocre performances, I found Rain Phoenix especially poor in parts. Mekhi Phifer (Odin James) and Josh Hartnett (Hugo Goulding) give superb performances, both expressing their characters effectively with great skill.

Of course adapting the script from Shakespeare's play would've been difficult but for a better version of Shakespeares' Othello the pace of the film should've been slower and should have concentrated more on the character's and their feelings...this film actually seemed to focus more screentime on action more than it should've...or needed to.

However the tragic tale was efficiently portrayed and extremely well delivered, it's an enjoyable film. The ending was also quite sad and was worthy of the build-up during the film. The tragedy of how Odin was twisted by Hugo into destroying the one thing he truly loved was sickeningly realised. Overall a nice film in its own way.

Watch it! You won't regret it, but in my opinion, some parts of the film could've been much better.

  • Milla.

8 / 10

One of the better retellings of Shakespeare to date. ***1/2 (out of four)

O / (2001) ***1/2 (out of four)

After the disastrous attempts the last decade has made at updating Shakespeare, I eventually thought that it was nearly impossible to successfully modernize anything of the genre. Shakespeare's themes and ideas can still relate with many aspects of society today, but seldom do filmmakers incorporate modern culture with the timeless stories told so long ago. "O" is like a slap in the face that proves my theory wrong. Based on Shakespeare's play "Othello," this isn't the first time Hollywood has tried to translate the tragic masterpiece onto film. In 1995, Laurence Fishburne starred in Oliver Parker's unsuccessful adaptation of the play. This time around, director Tim Blake Nelson has finally completed a victorious version of the story.and it's takes the form of a high school drama.

The film takes place in an elite private school located in the American South. Mekhi Phifer ("I Still Know What You Did Last Summer") stars as the title character, named Odin James, the only African American student at the school. That doesn't interfere with his reputation or image, however, because he's the school's defining figure. Rewarded MVP by the school's basketball team, he's a virtual celebrity with the student body, the basketball coach (Martin Sheen), as well as his beautiful girlfriend, Desi Brable (Julia Stiles of "Save the Last Dance"), the daughter of the Dean of Palmetto Grove Academy (John Heard).

Hugo Goulding (Josh Hartnett of "Pearl Harbor"), the son of the basketball coach, is Odin's best friend. He's asked by his father to look out for Odin because of the straining pressures of Palmetto Grove Academy. Little does anyone know, however, Hugo is dangerously envious of Odin and the attention he receives. On the outside, Hugo is friendly to all of his basketball teammates, including Odin, but on the inside, he's concocting a bitterly evil plan that will render more than just the social status of his classmates.

This tale of treachery, jealousy, and mistrust will introduce a new audience to the genius of William Shakespeare and some of his most intriguing and intelligent characters. In this version, the film changes the original metaphor of war into that of high school sports. It's startling how the themes of the classic story translate so well to the lives of modern young people. The film thoroughly examine the emotions of its characters. Through jealousy, favoritism, trust, and envy, to popularity, conformity, and the extreme measure some will take to fulfill their feelings, "O" looks into the heart of darkness, not through a sadistic serial killer or demonic monster, but through one of the most dangerous figures of all, a friend with ulterior motives.

Working against an inconsistent editing style and an uneven soundtrack, the actors do an exceedingly well job with their difficult characters. Josh Hartnett delivers a performance that isn't excessive or physically violent, but instead internal and intelligent. He gives his character a face for the complex emotions. He doesn't seek satisfaction through random temper tantrums, but through developing a full scale plan. Julia Stiles projects a charming, passionate chemistry with her supporting characters. Mekhi Phifer also furnishes a strong, convincing image of Odin.

Perhaps "O" doesn't fully exceed it's potential. It doesn't develop such possible themes as racism or one-sidedness. While creating a strong message on keeping friends close, but enemies closer, the film fails to examine a handful of themes that would have made the powerful, tragic conclusion even more effective.

"O" was originally completed in 1998, but because of the recent violence in real life high schools, the studios were uncertain about it's content and rescheduled its release date numerous times. Maybe these actions say something about the movie's impact and how influential it may become. In that case, why wait to release "O" if the message is something today's teens need to witness, both to inform them on Shakespeare and to demonstrate the dangerous results of envy and jealousy.