Othello (1995)

Moor is less in this new adaptation of the "Bill" Shakespeare clas- 
sic.  Veteran stage actor Oliver Parker, who's making his feature  
film debut, is aiming for mass appeal.  He's excised almost half of  
the original text, included plenty of sex and violence, and recorded  
the whole thing in big, booming stereo sound.  For the leads, he's  
cast a few good faces:  Laurence Fishburne as the Big Guy, French  
actress Irene Jacob (RED) as Desdemona, and Kenneth Branagh as Iago.   
It all sounds good on paper, and, for the first few scenes, it  
almost works.   
The biggest problem is Fishburne, who's flat.  He has the look and  
can deliver the lines, but he never burns with the fire that the  
role requires.  Jacob, a lovely presence, stumbles a bit through her  
Elizabethan English, while Branagh has a jolly olde time talking to  
and winking at the camera.  The artist formerly known as Mr. Emma  
Thompson is clearly in his element, even if he has about twelve too  
many asides.  (Parker's loose direction doesn't help, especially  
when we can't tell if Branagh is talking to himself, to us, or to  
someone off-screen.)  If you really want to brush up your Shake- 
speare, go rent Orson Welles' superior 1952 version. (Rated "R"/~120  
Grade: C 
Copyright 1996 by Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies

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