Tucson Weekly

DIRECTED BY: Oliver Parker

REVIEWED: 01-25-96

In spite of what you're about to read, go see this film. It is, after all, an ambitious and faithfully rendered version of the Shakespearean play, along the same lines as Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing--updated for your Big Studio viewing pleasure. This is not the dry, unintelligible Shakespeare you remember from high school. Skillful direction by Oliver Parker keeps the plot rolling, and Kenneth Branagh adds a dark, comic flare to the cunning, manipulative Iago. On the other hand, Laurence Fishburne and Irene Jacob, while visually stunning as Othello and Desdemona, are so earnest in their acting that all passion withers and dies in the making. While some scenes capitalize on the advantages of film (such as those scenes shot on location in Venice, and a truly inspired collage sequence foreshadowing Othello's madness), Othello is the cinematic equivalent of using a condom: You know you're enjoying theatre, you just can't feel it.

--Stacey Richter

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