All member reviews for O

Common Sense Media says

Imaginative, arresting Shakespeare retelling.

Users say

(out of 24 reviews)
age 16+
Review this title!
Teen, 17 years old Written bykellymarygrace April 17, 2014

Bringing it All Full Circle

After reading the play, Othello, this movie, produced by Tim Blake Nelson in 2001, was a great way to tie the entire plot together. As a student with many other classes and activities going on at the same time, it is hard to invest too much time into one play in one subject. In class we had the chance to hear the lively narration of the play, but once class was over, Shakespeare was irrelevant in comparison to the Spanish test the following period. I enjoyed watching this movie because it brought the every other day focus on Othello that I was getting previously all together and compressed it all into one interesting and relatable movie. The movie may have been over dramatized, but it did a great job of reeling viewers in. There was so much excitement that it allowed me to actually want to know what would happen next (even though I had already read the play). The engaging movie follows the plot of Othello much more accurately than I expected; yes, certain aspects were altered to be more contemporary, but after reading the play there was no problem making the connections that the directors intended. In the play, Othello is a happy, successful man who has a beautiful wife and a successful military career. In the movie, Odin James (Mekhi Phifer) is the basketball star on his high school team and his girlfriend, Desi (Julia Stiles), is the most popular and beautiful girl in school. In both the play and the movie, he has a great life as the story opens. Right away it is evident to see that Odin has enemies as well. One particular enemy is not just a bully or name-caller. Odin’s “enemy”, Hugo (Josh Hartnett), keeps his intentions and opinions to himself because he has lots of plans developing in his head. He is jealous of Odin’s success and harvests this envious energy into extreme hate and disgust with O. The movie and play follow Hugo’s (Iago’s in the play) spiteful plot to destroy Odin/Othello and his success. This escalates very quickly in both play and movie. You’ll have to watch in order to find out how Iago gets revenge, but nothing exactly turns out pleasantly… Again, the issues discussed in the movie are much more dramatic than they would be in real life, but, being a movie meant for entertainment, the drama undoubtedly draws the audience in. The audience, however, should not be anyone under the age of 14 (at least). If the worst thing in this movie was swearing, it could be rated PG-13. The profanity, however, is the most mild part of the movie. There are a couple steamy sex scenes and many situations when hard drugs and alcohol are abused. Additionally, the violence escalates as the plot escalates. Older students and adults who understand why these aspects add to the story can easily handle the iffy scenes, but seeing this movie before you’re in highschool (at least) would not make any sense. As a highschooler, it was easy to understand the strife some of the characters were going through, and a seventh grader would hopefully not be able to relate yet. All of the technical parts of the movie were just as expected. No crazy special effects, but everyone’s “library voices” were not always used. The acting was better than I expected. I usually have the idea that any movies that remake classic works of literature will always be a little cheesy or unbelievable. The directors and producers did a great job choosing the cast and writing the script. I appreciated seeing accurate representations of characters in the play and do not have many complaints. The movie was produced in 2001, so the subpar soundtrack makes sense to me. There were a few random songs used, such as the final song in the closing scene. It was too slow for the dramatic conclusion of the play. I can see that it was supposed to be dramatic and relative to the tragedy that occurs, but it did not fit in the scene. Other than that one track, the other music was there and not an issue, but did not add any unexpected feelings to the scenes. By watching this movie, I was able to get the full Othello experience. I understood the basic plot when I read the play, but the movie allowed me to feel for the characters and to get emotionally attached to their stories. Since they were high school students dealing with lots of pressures from parents and peers, it was a very relatable movie for a fellow high schooler. I enjoyed the movie for its accurate representation and interpretation of Othello. I suggest this movie for anyone who has read the play because it brings everything full circle and is an entertaining break from the Elizabethan Era.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written bywonder dove December 27, 2012

Rollercoaster of emotions...

This story is pretty intense and not recommended for kids under 17! It deals a lot with race and racial comments, extreme jealousy, relationships and trust but it is so accurate which makes the film so good. It was a mistake when I first viewed it as a tween because not only did I miss the message of the movie, but it was far too violent. Everything here involves teens and their own personal issues with each other. The violence is gory and strong which includes gun use by teens, verbal abuse, a rape scene, suicide, fight scenes with a knife, killings, lying, bullying and peer pressure - Odin is scary when he's mad!. The sexual content is explicit in one sex scene which turns into rape but no nudity. Crude & racial sexual remarks like referring to white women as snakes. A couple lays in bed naked together just talking - no nudity. There is kissing throughout, cheating, a teen tells her father that her relationship with Odin is none of his business after a nasty rumor spreads around, reference to being a sl*t. Very strong language. Teen drinking & drug use (needle shown). NOT for kids, but a really powerful and well-done film for mature minds.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written bykshanmugam May 1, 2014

Shakespeare in a Movie?!

Shakespeare staged in high school? I wonder why no one else thought of that. As far as captivating teenagers with century old pieces goes, director Tim Blake Nelson and screenwriter Brad Kaaya most definitely succeeded in catching my attention. Their collaborative effort “O” resembles Shakespeare's tragic play Othello except scenes are staged in more modern stages. The action in “O” takes place at a modern private, southern, high school, where as Othello is staged many centuries ago in a battlefield in Cyprus. A violent, captivating tale of betrayal and love, “O” portrays the dangers and disasters of simply trusting a jealous man’s words. Starring Mekhl Phifer, an African American, as Odin, a popular star basketball player, truly makes the connection to Othello in terms of Othello, who indeed shares some of the characteristic of Odin of being personable and being a star in his own way. But just as Othello had an enemy, Iago, Odin did as well, but his enemy goes by the name of Hugo (Josh Hartnett). Hugo, Odin’s extremely jealous best friend, costs Odin his love, Desi Brable (Julia Stiles) and essentially his sanity. Hugo manipulates Odin into believing Desi has an affair with one of Odin’s teammates, Michael Cassio (Andrew Keegan), which causes him to eventually take his lover’s life. Othello and Odin are practically two perfect people except for one tragic flaw: their jealousy. Iago and Hugo both take advantage of that flaw and plot Othello’s and Odin’s downfall. Being a realistic and violent film, “O” left me personally drained. The ending of the movie stands to be very abrupt as Odin just pulls out a gun out of nowhere and shoots everyone in a frenzy. Everyone except Hugo. Why not shoot the guy that created this whole mess in the first place? Although currently, it seems very practicable for a disturbed teenager to pull out a gun, however, in the movie, it just makes the ending seem rushed. Odin’s anger and frustration did not seem to lead up to the point where we he would end up shooting his classmates. Although it is possible for a shooting like this to happen in a school, the events leading up to the shooting seem very impracticable. I mean, who goes and stuffs their girlfriend’s face with a pillow just because of a rumor? And shooting someone just because they are stating their opinion? This is America, freedom of speech, obviously. The setting of the film kind of worked and kind of did not. Although it is a modern version, some actions such as killing someone because of infidelity seems like something that would have happened centuries ago. Now, people just break up and move on. Director Tim Blake Nelson and screenwriter Brad Kaaya, however, make sure to Shakespeare’s original work and the same connections from the play could be made to the movie. Mekhl portrays Odin’s/Othello’s vulnerable, talented, and insecure character flawlessly which really makes the movie seem like Shakespeare’s play. All the other actors do a fine job of conveying the angst of being teenagers and display the appropriate behaviors for their characters. I would definitely recommend this movie to adults and older teenagers and to be extremely cautious with this movie around children as it sends improper messages about drugs, alcohol, and friendships.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 16 years old Written bycmay11 April 26, 2014

A Little Over the Top but Accurate

I am always hesitant about watching a movie after reading the corresponding book/play. Most of the time, the movie is misleading and strays away from the original story and key details. However, the movie "O" directed by Tim Blake Nelson did not do a shabby job at portraying Shakespeare's famous play. But of course, since the film was a modern take off of the story, many aspects were altered. Othello's character was named Odin James (Mehki Phifer), a star basketball player at a high school in which he was the only African American. The basketball team represented his position in the military. Iago's character was transformed into Hugo Goulding (Josh Hartnett), another player on the team along with Michael Cassio (Andrew Keegan). The whole conflict starts when Odin chooses Michael to be the MVP of the basketball team instead of choosing Hugo. This would be the equivalence of Othello overlooking Iago for the lieutenancy. From then on, Hugo pursues his revenge on Odin by messing with his life and relationship with his true love, Desi Brable (Julia Stiles). Now, even though I said this movie was pretty accurate in storytelling, I for sure am not saying it is pleasant or appropriate. I don't think the characters went more than 2 minutes without dropping the F bomb or making a sexual remark. I understand that it was a high school setting, but it was just way too over the top. It also contained drug use by Othello and Iago's characters. In addition, as if those things weren't bad enough, there was a sex/rape scene between Odin and Desi that was very hard to watch. I do not suggest seeing this movie if you are sensitive to those controversial situations. I also found Desi's death to be extremely brutal, being suffocated to death by Odin. That was probably the most difficult scene to watch. Although this movie was very inappropriate and racy in my eyes, I do believe that the actors and actresses did a wonderful job at representing their characters wants and desires. Iago's great manipulation skills and ability to blame everything on everyone else was portrayed perfectly through Hugo's character, and Othello's extreme jealously shone through Odin's actions and emotions. I definitely saw a strong connection between the original play and the inspired movie, and I believe it did it justice. The only advice I can give you is to prepare yourselves.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Teen, 16 years old Written byaarti54321 April 17, 2014

Meh...

Based on the play Othello by Shakespeare, O did a pretty great job at sticking to most of the plot and adjusting it to the lives of high schoolers, with only a few minor exceptions. In this movie, a black high school student named Odin (Mekhi Phifer), an accomplished basketball player, is tricked by his friend Hugo (Josh Hartnett) into thinking that his girlfriend Desi (Julia Stiles) is cheating on him with Michael (Andrew Keegan), who had just been Odin’s friend. Hugo is successful at tricking Odin and Odin spirals out of control. The plot gets really crazy and intense sometimes, making it fun to watch. However, the ending was very unrealistic, which I hated. As for other aspects of the film, the directing and acting were mediocre. I love Julia Stiles and Andrew Keegan, but they both acted ten times better in 10 Things I Hate About You. Even Mekhi Phifer and Josh Hartnett didn’t act amazingly. Also, the cinematography was okay. Once again, nothing special really stood out to me. The soundtrack was certainly weird though, which struck me right at the beginning of the play. There’s some interesting hip-hop included in the film. As for the high school campus, the set managers made it look super realistic. I think that this movie should only be seen by kids about 16 or older because of numerous instances of mature content. Profanity, drugs, and violence are prevalent throughout the play. In fact, the violence gets so extreme that it looks very unrealistic for high schoolers and it made me uncomfortable at times. There is also a sex scene which becomes a rape scene, which should obviously not be watched by younger kids. Overall, the movie was decent. I wouldn’t really recommend it though, unless you really want to see how Othello can be adapted to work in a high school setting.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 17 years old Written byddavis2014 April 17, 2014

Good remake, bad messages

If you would like to see a thrilling remake of a Shakespeare classic with engaging characters and a suspenseful ending, I would highly recommend Tim Blake Nelson’s “O”. The movie retells the tragic tale of Othello, the Moor of Venice, in the form of an African-American high school basketball star named Odin James (Mekhil Phifer). The character’s love for his sweet All-American girlfriend, Desi (Julia Stiles) is evident from the beginning, and the movie does an excellent job of highlighting the difficulties sometimes faced by interracial couples. One of the best parts of this movie is the casting of Josh Hartnett as Hugo, Odin’s scheming villain. Hartnett fully embodied the intense characteristics of his original inspiration, Iago. His manipulation methods were displayed impeccably, including his twisted conversations and subtle but hurtful lies. This added to the intensity of the plot and stayed true to play details. Also, like the play, it was very clear from the beginning of the movie who the good and evil characters were. I particularly noticed a sharp contrast between the wicked qualities of Hugo and the altruistic qualities of his honest girlfriend Emily (Rain Phoenix). Although the movie does feature Emily as one positive role model, most of the characters are pretty negative. Even the “hero” character, Odin, was shown swearing profusely and abusing hard drugs. I feel that the movie had a negative overall message. There were very few characters that I could find average teens closely relating to, even though it took place in a high school. Regardless, the story remains very close to the original plot of the classic play and could allow teens to see the old story in a newer, more relevant way. Teens will love the modern soundtrack, including a range from popular rap songs to more dramatic and tense music to engage the viewer’s attention. The editing was fairly decent and I do not recall any extraneous scenes. Overall, this movie definitely deserves its R rating because of language, sex, and graphic violence. I would not recommend this movie to children, but teens and adults may enjoy its suspense and fast pace.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 17 years old Written bygeometrisaurus April 18, 2014

So Very Accurate

O is an accurate modern adaptation of Othello. It does an excellent job of recreating the characters of Othello as teenagers going to a boarding school. Othello is renamed and transformed into Odin James (Mekhi Phifer), and is the only black student at the high school. He plays on the basketball team, the equivalent of the military in Othello, with Hugo Goulding (Josh Hartnet), and Michael Cassio (Andrew Keegan). Hugo plans the downfall of Odin when Odin chooses Michael to be the MVP of the basketball team with himself, just as Iago plans his revenge when Othello picks Michael Cassio instead of him for lieutenancy. Hugo’s revenge mirrors the revenge Iago takes in Othello, only changing when it is absolutely necessary to do so.because of the setting or the ages of the characters. Hugo even manipulates his minion, Roger Calhoun (Elden Henson), into doing lots of the dirty work for him, the same way Iago uses Roderigo in the play. His plans, first making Odin begin to doubt his girlfriend’s, Desi Brable (Julia Stiles), integrity, then moving to murder out of jealousy, has only one difference from the play - to make Odin even more passionate about what he believes Desi to be doing, Hugo gives him drugs to make him jealous out of his mind. The accuracy of the movie is extremely well done when considering how the teenagers have to go from petty revenge to motive for murder. The actors also did a great job of portraying the characters, from showing the transition of Odin from perfectly sane to jealousy at the point of insanity. It was adapted from the play very well and the characters all kept their personalities. It was fascinating to see how alike the play and the movie were and the ending is just as shocking, if not more so because of the relatability of the teens.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 17 years old Written byekingery April 17, 2014

Wash Your Mouth out with Soap

If you are a fan of Shakespeare and do not feel like reading the entire play, then go watch the movie “O”. “O” is a clever adaptation of Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello where instead of taking place in Venice, it is depicted in a high school where basketball is the focus of the school. This movie generally sticks to the original play as there are a few minor changes with character names and added drama to elicit more suspense in the movie. The movie opens up to an intense basketball where Odin or O (Mekhi Phifer) is the favorite of the school but, like Othello, is the only African American in a white boarding school. By the end of the game, one can clearly pick out Hugo/Iago (Josh Hartnett) as he watches Odin from afar getting all the attention from the rest of the school. He begins to become jealous of O and plots revenge on O for being the best. Similarly to the book, Hugo has a minion Roger (Elden Henson) and his fellow innocent teammate Michael (Andrew Keegan) who help him carry out his tactful revenge on O by playing on O’s jealousy. Odin has a girlfriend Desi (Julia Stiles) who is the center for Hugo plan as he craftily creates a lie that no one sees coming. Since it is a high school, drama spreads fast and the suspense in the play is heighten to a new level where no one knows the difference between the truth and the lie. The movie gives a huge shoutout to the play and successfully mirrors the storyline by making it adaptable to teens who might not necessary read the actual play. Overall, the movie did an amazing job at mimicking the play with a few creative twists that no one saw coming. “O” displays a darker side of high school that no one would ever suspect. The movie also shows an unrealistic side of high school and the rumors that are involved with it. Some of the acting is a little overdone as they try to add more tension then there needed to be. In some scenes, it makes it unbearable to watch and just made me want to laugh instead of being shocked of what was happening. The language in the movie was a bit dramatic as they swear in almost every conversation making it seem like they can not carry out a normal conversation. It was so unnecessary and had a weak effect on the entire movie making it almost a struggle to watch at some points. I did enjoy the movie besides all the profanity and the weak acting. The movie was a good adaptation of an old classic story by Shakespeare and I suggest that everyone watch it if they want to see a modern twist of Othello.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Teen, 16 years old Written byN_Sivam April 17, 2014

Where did the plot go?

The movie “O” is a subpar modern day adaptation of Shakespeare’s Othello, a brutal tragedy filled with jealousy and murder. The movie takes place in a boarding school where the star basketball player, Odin James (Mekhi Phifer) lives a “perfect” life. Not only does he have the title of MVP, but he also gets the girl, Dezzy (Julia Stiles) and wins the favor of the coach (Martine Sheen). The plot takes a sudden turn for the worst when “always second best” Hugo Goulding (Josh Harnett) decides that he has had enough of Odin’s popularity. Through well-write wit deception, Hugo begins to turn O’s life upside-down. However, that is the extent of the plot and it takes place within the first 30 minutes of the movie. This is the point in the movie where it looks like a group of middle school children took over the writing and directing. If every unnecessary vulgar and profane word in that script was taken out, the movie would end at least a good 30 minutes earlier. Not to mention, the continuous flashes to the birds are completely irrelevant and made me fell like I was watching a documentary about the wildlife of rainforests, complete with cheesy, irrelevant instrumentals and all. Instead of the plot line flowing, like all movies should, this movie jerked back and forth from a scene of drugs, to a horrible rape, to a basketball game because the writers were trying to include everything of importance in a 5 act play to a 2 hour movie so the movie lost all sense of a plot line. Furthermore, all of the characters seemed to simultaneously loose their ability to change emotions as they all eternally portrayed the same one. Odin was jealous, Dezzy was confused, Hugo was angry, etc. In total, the movie was a horrible representation of the true intelligence behind Othello simply because it tried to hard to fit in but ended up overdoing it.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 16 years old Written bykenriquez April 17, 2014

An Intense Adaptation

“O” is based off of the Shakespeare play, Othello. It is a highly accurate adaptation of the book, which is great, but with that also comes a lot of heavy dilemmas. To make the movie more modern, director Tim Blake Nelson put the setting in a high school with love struck teenagers, instead of Elizabethan military men. Odin James (Mehki Phifer) is the only African American student at the school; the rest are white students. He is head over heels in love with his white girlfriend Desi (Julia Stiles). Odin is the star of the basketball team, MVP, and adored by his teammates and friends. However, completely envious of of Odin’s skill and co-MVP winner Michael Cassio (Andrew Keegan), Hugo (Josh Hartnett), decides that it’s time for O’s life to go up in flames. He calls on his nerdy, wannabe side-kick Roger (Elden Henson) to help put his plan into action. Since Odin chose Michael over Cassio for MVP, Hugo starts to hint to Odin that Michael and Desi are secretly seeing each other. Simultaneously, Hugo starts being a “friend” to Michael and tells him to ask Desi to help him get back on Odin’s good side for the big game coming up. Neither knows of Hugo’s plan, so as Michael pleas for help from Desi, Odin strongly believes that Desi is cheating on him. After that, there is a flood of drugs, alcohol, and sexual intimacy that drives Odin insane enough to hurt his friends, teammates, Desi, and himself. There is a lot of intense content that goes into this simple high school setting, but some of it is essential to the plot. The hardcore drugs are necessary in this case because they drive Odin completely over the edge, enough so that a nice romantic evening turns into a rape scene. Along with the drugs and sex, the language and music choices are intense as well.They both contain constant explicit language. It is a very well filmed adaptation, however it was pretty intense for a high school setting. By the end of the movie, some questions were left unanswered; however, they were clarified in the book. For as serious as the movie was, I believe that the actors performed well and made it relatable to modern times and somewhat realistic.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 17 years old Written byCaseyVogt April 17, 2014

Modern Take on Shakespeare's play Othello done right!

Overall the director does a great job with the rendition of the play Othello written by Shakespeare. It is a modern interpretation done well. The main character Odin James (Mekhi Phifer) is an African American that attends a predominantly a school filled with white people. Odin gains the student’s respect through his amazing ability to play basketball. He is awarded the mvp in the beginning of movie, which he shares with Michael Cassio (Andrew Keegan). Hugo Goulding (Josh Hartnett) another basketball player on Odin’s team, who is confused and chooses to take steroids. His father (Martin Sheen), the coach of the basketball team favors Odin over Hugo. This causes Hugo to be immensely jealous of Odin and build up hate for him. In addition Odin dates the most beautiful and popular girl at school. She is the dean’s daughter her name is Desi Brable (Julia Stiles). Julia and Odin are madly in love and are dating against her father’s will. Julia proves to be a headstrong opinionated woman that respects and loves Odin throughout the entire movie. As the plot builds drugs, violence, and alcohol appear more frequently. It all starts when Hugo recruits Rodger (Eldon Hanson) a hopelessly in love boy, who will do anything to capture the love of Desi. Hugo manipulates Rodger into starting a fight with Michael at a party (First instance of alcohol). This leads to Michael getting kicked of the team. Odin then is angry with Michael for making a stupid decision at a party. Hugo then uses his insider villain abilities to suggest to Michael to speak with Desi in order for Odin to forgive him. Little does Michael this all apart of Hugo’s devious plan. Hugo convinces Odin that Michael and Desi are having an affair behind his back through an intricate set plan of events. The pure thought of Des cheating on him drives Odin to go on a downward spiral. Odin become angry and violent. He goes so far to even rape Des. At first, it is consensual sex, but she then says “stop” and he is blinded by his hate that he doesn’t. He also snorts cocaine several times throughout the movie. Hugo persistently comforts Odin for the supposed affair, one night while drinking and doing drugs Hugo and Odin decide that they will kill both Des and Michael. Of course the plan is executed perfectly. In the end of this movie the viewer is left with Odin’s suicide and Desi, Michael, Rodger, and Emily (Rain Phoenix, Hugo’s girlfriend) all murdered all because of Hugo and Odin’s one weakness, jealousy. The movie is a great modern interpretation of Othello. Although it seems as though it is more violent than the original play. This perception could be due to the fact that it is such a shocking ending. One does not think that teenagers can be so ruthless, but it is shown that they can be. Despite the fact that the movie seems to be more violent there also is more drugs and alcohol. The alcohol is seen sporadically throughout the movie and do not have a real significance. On the other hand the drugs contains meaning. The drugs are added because it puts Odin and Hugo into a mental position to kill. It is rather a great leap of intensity to Des is cheating and then Odin’s state of mind of I need to kill her. The drugs allow for the story to be more believeable. Another difference between the play and the movie is Emily’s part. Emily, who plays the part of Emilia, is rather an insignificant character. But, this is much different from in the play. Emilia is an important person throughout the play and is very vocal. I wish the movie had done a better job of portraying Emily’s importance. Also the movie does not show the true bond that Emily and Desi have according to the play. In the play Emilia (Emily) and Desdemona (Desi) have a strong bond. All in all “O” does an appreciable job of recreating the Othello modernly. It follows the plot almost exactly and represents the characters fairly well. In conclusion, I recommend this movie, but be cautious of children seeing the movie due to the violence, drugs, and alcohol.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 17 years old Written bynjagadish April 17, 2014

O-MyGod

The movie was a modern interpretation of Othello by Shakespeare. Set in high school, Hugo (Josh Hartnett) becomes jealous of his teammate Odin James, or O (Mekhi Phifer) who is named MVP of the basketball team by Hugo's father. To get back at O for stealing his spotlight, Hugo launches an intricate plan with the help of his sidekick Rodger (Elden Henson) to destroy his O's and take his beloved girlfriend, Desi (Julia Stiles) away from him. I think that the interpretation stayed pretty true to the plot of the book. Hugo convinces O that Desi is cheating on him with Michael Cassio (Andrew Keegan) and the scarf motif is still prevalent in both the play and the movie. All the events and people died according to the play as well. the drugs and the rape scene were not in the book, but it was ok since they were used as parallels to what actually happened in the play. My only critique in regards to how well it stuck to the play was that I could not translate how military men killing each other would be equivalent to high school students performing the same heinous actions. That was not realistic for me. In terms of acting all characters did a great job especially Julia Stiles in the scene where O was choking her. I did not particularly like the rap music in the background, I did not see how that was beneficial to the story line. I think one of the main themes in the story is how jealousy can consume you like it did to O. This theme is still applicable in today's society since jealousy is prevalent in our culture. Overall I think that, besides the minor differences, the play stayed true to the play Othello.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 17 years old Written byVLo April 17, 2014
As an adaptation, the film O could be worse as a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s Othello. The main characters are all present, though obviously aged down and given different names. Othello, the military commander treated like an outsider because of his race is now Odin (Mekhi Phifer), the star basketball player of his high school and the only black student. Iago (Josh Hartnett), once out to get revenge on Othello for passing him up for the position of lieutenant, is now Hugo, out for revenge for not being acknowledged by Odin for a basketball award. The plot is by and large the same otherwise, with Hugo lying his way into gaining revenge for himself by planting doubt into Odin’s mind about the faithfulness of his girlfriend, Desi (Julia Stiles). The closeness to the original plot could be a cause for concern for parents; the original plot contained violence, drinking, sexual references, and racial slurs, all of which are not only present in this film, but often amplified. The violence, made up primarily of sword fighting in the source material, is now quite graphic and carried out with guns. Additionally, the sex that is only alluded to in the play is now blatant, with entire scenes dedicated to sex between teenagers, including one consensual sex scene which turns into rape as it goes on. The movie even included drug use in more than one scene, despite this not being present in the original play at all. At times, it felt more like a calculating movie executive’s idea of a modern teen’s lifestyle, right down to the party scene and rap soundtrack. The latter of those two felt rather unnecessary; while this is a movie involving teenagers, it would be a stretch to call a Shakespeare adaptation full of adult material a teen film. Thus, the attempt to appeal to younger audiences is lost. The dialogue, due to this, seems awkward at times, mainly due to forced profanity and rather uninspired delivery by some of the actors. While the three leads do a rather good job throughout, there are some lines even they cannot make sound natural. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the film was striving for “edginess” over substance, I would say that the film is often more shocking than entertaining. Even then, the shock is due mostly to the fact that teenagers are the one’s participating in all sorts of debauchery. Even as a fan of the original work, I would have a hard time wholeheartedly recommending this film to a fellow fan of Shakespeare’s work, as it functions fine as an adaptation, but not so much as a movie.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 17 years old Written bycloievon April 17, 2014

CAUTION When With Children

“O” is inspired by Shakespeare’s play, Othello, centered around lust, violence, and most of all jealousy. Set in a modern high school scene, “O” focuses on the life of a basketball star Odin (Mekhi Phifer) and his girlfriend Desi (Julia Stiles). Similar to the play, Odin’s friend, Hugo (Josh Hartnett), plans a twisted revenge against him stemmed from jealousy and pure hate. The plot of the movie stays true to the play in the fact that we see similar scenes involving Desdemona’s scarf, Hugo using others like Roger (Elden Henson) and Michael (Andrew Keegan), and the ending scene is almost a direct adaptation of the play. Hugo uses character’s to do his dirty work and gets away with it until the final scene of the movie, suddenly his plan was not as bulletproof as he had planned. In the play, we see Emilia unraveling the plans of Iago and exposing him for his true self. Similarly in the movie, Emily (Rain Phoenix) discovers the truth of the evil inside Hugo and tries to expose him, but is sadly cut short. This movie is helpful in the fact that it is more relatable to teens in high school and easier to understand rather than reading the play in Shakespearian writing. With almost the entire movie being a direct adaptation of the play, students would be able to relate the movie back to the scenes in the play. The violence however, was blown up tremendously from the play onto the movie screen. This movie is in no way appropriate for anyone younger than 17. The play, although violent and sexual, did not paint as vivid a picture of these scenes as in the movie. Most would think that a modern adaptation would dial it down, make it relatable to teenagers with detention or expulsion, rather than drugs and murder. But this movie decided to directly show the rape, violence, and murder from the play. This was shocking to me. I was able to accept these scenes in the play because the characters were adults, military men with wives. But the movie was centered around high school students. The actors and actresses did an amazing job connecting the emotions and feelings from the play onto the scene, but, as a student myself, I can not relate to the type of violence and sexual abuse in the movie. It was horrifying to watch and frankly made me uncomfortable. It may be rated R, but that does not do this movie justice. The movie “O” does not hold anything back. It may be a direct adaptation to the play and a worthy interpretation of Shakespeare’s writing,, which is important for educational purposes, but on its own, the movie “O” is far more inappropriate than necessary.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 17 years old Written bykstubblefield April 17, 2014

Modern Day Version of Othello

A Shakespearean play takes a twist into the modern day world and becomes a movie. I expected this movie to be very dramatic, because that is the writing style of William Shakespeare’s plays, which is what this movie originated from. I expected people to deceive each other,but one thing I was not expecting was actual murder. It is easier to read a murder scene than to watch one happen. The movie takes a huge twist, leaving the viewers on the edge of their seats. Othello, (Mekhi Phifer) plays an African American athlete and the head of his basketball team. His girlfriend, Desdemona (Julia Stiles) is Othello’s number one supporter at his games and a very loyal girlfriend. Many twists and turns happen during this movie that leave people getting hurt. Lies are told and people are deceived. Hugo, (Josh Hartnett), is the number one source for the corruption of this movie. Hugo will surprise you with his actions and impress you with his cleverness all at the same time. A once passionate couple, turns into one of them becoming jealous and listening to outside sources more than each other. Other people influence the relationship between Odin and Desi in a negative way and cause their relationship to be tested. The movie “O” directed by Tim Blake Nelson comes off as a typical teenage movie setting. There are drugs, there is love, lying, sports, disobedience and jealousy. All of these things do play an important role in this movie. It shows what outlandish things can be done when someone drinks or injects themselves with drugs. It shows that people will deceive you, and the people you thought you could trust turn their back on you. This movie relates to high schoolers because their emotions can control their actions and that is exactly what happens in this movie. It explains high school in a nutshell, and although this movie is dramaticized with the violence, the core events and reality of the character’s actions are relatable for teens and is a movie that I would recommend. “O” also teaches teens what could happen and how dumb people can look from the poor choices they make.
What other families should know
Great messages
Teen, 16 years old Written bynfreeman1997 April 17, 2014

O What a Great Modern Interpretation!

Tim Blake Nelson’s O is an excellent modern interpretation of Shakespeare’s Othello. The film starts off by showing Odin James (Mekhi Phifer) wining MVP for the school’s successful basketball team. Odin extends the award to his teammate, Michael Cassio (Andrew Keegan), but Hugo Goulding, (Josh Hartnett) the utility player of the team and the coach’s son, feels deeply betrayed. He vows to get revenge on Mike, by kicking him off of the team, and Odin, by breaking up Odin’s relationship with Desi Brable (Julia Stiles), the most beautiful and popular girl in school. O touches on the difficulties of the relationship between Desi and Odin; Desi’s father, the Dean of the school, vehemently opposes the relationship because Odin is black. But Desi and Odin continue their relationship despite the existing racism. To put his devious plan into action, Hugo collaborates with Roger Calhoun (Elden Henson), who desperately wants Desi’s attention, and plots to get Michael drunk at a party to eliminate him from the team. In order to play to Odin’s infirmity of jealousy, he makes it appear as though Desi and Michael are hooking up behind Odin’s back. Hugo encourages Mike to talk to Desi more and more, while he simultaneously plants a seed in Oden’s head about the potential meaning behind Desi’s and Michael’s close relationship. Mike does in fact fall into Hugo’s trap and Odin does in fact start to believe that there is something going on between Mike and Desi. The scarf also plays a key role in the movie as it does in the play – Odin gives a scarf to Desi (although it is earlier in the movie than in the play), but Emilia finds it and gives it to Hugo. From there, the scarf travels to Mike and then to Brandy (Rachel Shumate), Mike’s lover. Hugo uses this as physical proof that there is something going on between Mike and Desi. To make matters worse, Hugo has a conversation with Mike about Brandy and his’ sex life, but he leads Odin to believe that they are talking about Desi. Convinced of Desi’s treachery and furiously jealous of Mike, Odin agrees to let Hugo orchestrate a deadly plan where Desi and Mike get what they deserve. And the true tragedy of Shakespeare takes its place, as an avoidable unfortunate series of events unfolds. There were a few errors and add-ons in the movie, but they were necessary in keeping the plot smooth and make sense in a modern context. For example, the movie includes a scene where Odin does drugs right before he plans Desi’s and Michael’s demises. There is no drug use in the play, but the filmmakers included this aspect in order to emphasize the fact that Odin is not in his right mind as he plan’s Desi’s death. The themes in this movie were also consistent with the play as they touched on the sexuality of women, racism and gender roles. Overall, this was a good movie because it included the grit of a Shakespearean play and certainly did not sugar coat any violence or profanity. It was quite shocking to see so much violence in this context simply because it is not the norm in a high school. Overall, I liked this movie’s imagery, acting and cinematography, but I certainly wouldn’t want to be going to that boarding school.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 17 years old Written byMimiM2014 April 17, 2014

Too Modern for Shakespeare

O is a modern adaptation of Shakespeare play Othello. Set in a private high school, the movie follows the same plot with different character names to fit the modern times. Odin James (Mekhi Phifer) is the only Black student at this elite high school but he is the star of the basketball team and the entire school adores him. However, Hugo Goulding (Josh Hartnett and Iago’s equivalent) vows to ruin Odin after Michael Cassio, the sophomore, (Andrew Keegan) is picked over him for the MVP award. This then begins a story of lies that involve Odin, Hugo, Michael, and Desi Brable (Julia Stiles), Odin’s girlfriend. Hugo makes it his mission to convince Odin that Desi is cheating on him with Michael Cassio, which results in all characters getting hurt in some manner. However, this adaptation is more scandalous and racy than necessary. The director, Tim Blake Nelson, wanted to create another Shakespeare teen movie that appealed to the public, like 10 Things I Hate About You. To achieve this, Nelson includes heavy drug use (cocaine and steroids), drinking, swearing, which includes the n-word, and violence. Even the music has harsh language in it! Now by trying to create this chaotic and appealing high school setting, he fails to retain the meaning of the play. It is hard to believe that a male high school student would manipulate another student over an MVP and eventually plot to commit murder together. Also all the deaths are sudden and shocking, which might appeal to an audience who has not read Othello, but for those who have the forced violence seems to be overkill. What made Othello a great play was that it allowed the viewer to see the interactions and conversations between the characters. It gave the viewer more insight into the characters’ intentions and it established the relationships very well. Unfortunately, the poor script does not allow this same opportunity so the movie viewer may be lost on why certain scenes in the movie are happening. The actors, though, did a fantastic job on getting into character. Josh Hartnett played a great insider villain; while Mekhi Phifer did a good job portraying Odin’s descendent into madness. Overall, the movie does follow the major plot points and the actors give a good representation of their characters, but the script does not do the plot justice or touch upon the important themes of gender, jealousy, and race as well as the play. Again, the harsh language and violence make this movie too intense, which deters the viewer away from the themes surrounding human behavior. Therefore, watch this movie for a fun Friday night in but not for a serious study of Shakespeare.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 17 years old Written bymaddiegalvan April 17, 2014

"O": A Modern and Mildly Inappropriate Adaptation of Shakespeare's Othello

If you think that Shakespeare’s plays can’t be exciting then think again. Director Tim Blake Nelson took on the project of a modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s Othello, leaving us with the racy yet accurate end product that is the movie, “O.” “O,” for being set in a teenage prep school in the early 2000s, is surprisingly faithful to the original plot line of the Elizabethan play, but with a few exceptions. The movie’s “Othello” is Oden James (Mekhi Phifer) who is the only black student at the prestigious prep school and star of the basketball team. Desdemona is now Dessie (Julia Stiles), and just like the play is Oden’s white girlfriend, whose father disapproves of her relationship. Similarly, other characters from the play have mild name changes as well in order to preserve their original identities, making it easier to determine who is who in the movie. Exactly as it is in Shakespeare’s Othello, “O” tells the story of the villainous Hugo (Josh Harnett) who manipulates Oden into believing that Dessie is cheating on him with his teammate and best friend, Michael Cassio. The movie follows the plot in accordance to how Hugo frames Michael and plays on Oden’s tragic flaw of jealousy. The movie ends with several deaths of the characters; however, it contains the same body count as the original play, so one can’t blame the excessive level of violence solely on Nelson. However, what does make “O” different is the level of sexual displays, language, and drugs and alcohol uses and references. In one scene, consensual sex becomes rape and there are many times where the rap music on the soundtrack contains harsh and demeaning lyrics. In several instances, substance abuse is seen on screen. It is likely that the substance abuse was put in place to make the teenage version of the story seem more accurate, but it is definitely something to consider before letting younger children watch the movie. Additionally, the violence in the movie, while at the same level as the classic play is more graphic than what one would see in Elizabethan translation of the play. Seeing teenagers with guns has a disturbing quality to it that may be harder to watch then men in tights with blunt swords and daggers. Overall, the movie is delightfully faithful to the play and definitely attention holding. The modern twist makes the story relatable, but the plot is accurate enough that you are still aware it is Shakespeare influenced. So if you're looking for a Shakespearean adaptation that leaves you feeling worked up with all kinds of feelings, this is definitely the movie to watch!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 16 years old Written byarandazzo April 17, 2014

A Interesting Adaptation of Shakespeare

“O,” directed by Tim Nelson, is an compelling adaptation of Shakespeare’s play Othello. The movie highlights the play’s themes of jealousy and racism very well, but in some cases too extreme and realistic for the movie’s setting. The main difference from the play is that it takes place at a modern day prep school, complete with a winning basketball team and stereotypical teenage relationships. The main character of the film based of of Othello is Odin, “O”, played by actor Mekhi Phifer portrays the star of the basketball team and the only African American student. Hugo (Iago) is played Josh Hartnett and successfully shows the extreme hatred the character has for O from the moment he was awarded ‘MVP’ on their basketball team by Hugo’s own father, the coach. Hugo wants to ruin O’s life starting with his relationship with Desi (Desdemona) played by actress Julia Stiles. Similar to the play, Hugo first tries to get rid of O by accusing O of raping Desi and telling the principle of the school, which also happens to be Desi’s father. Unlike the play where the biracial relationship was enough to cause Desi’s father to become angry the movie shows a good comparison of the two event. When the plan backfires Hugo hatches the brilliantly evil plan to convince O that Desi is cheating on him with Michael Cassio (Andrew Keegan) one of O’s best friends. The director represents Cassio’s character very well in the movie portraying him as a ladies man. As the movie progresses the movie highlights main events that occur in the play very similarly to those in the movie. The one downfall though was the over necessary use vulgar language. Yes, the main characters of this are high school boys but I found it a little distracting to hear the ‘f* word’ almost every 2 minutes. Drug use is also very present in the film, it’s used as a more realistic spark of O becoming so paranoid and jealous of Desi and Michael's “relationship” to the point of him wanting to kill both of them. Along with drugs there are several sex scenes, including one that turns into a rape scene. That scene is definitely something the director added in because I’m pretty sure Shakespeare did not write that into the play. These scenes are extremely inappropriate for younger children but they do portray the message of the play well. Aside from the sometimes overuse of sex, language, drugs, and violence, overall, this adaptation tells the storyline of Othello with interesting adaptations to make them fit into prep school life. And it portrays the main theme of jealousy that is present throughout the play very well.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 16 years old Written byericayesenia April 17, 2014

Fair Interpretation of Othello

The movie O, directed by Tim Blake Nelson, is a fair adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s tragedies, Othello. Not only does the movie strictly follow the play, but it also provides a modern interpretation that includes new millenium rap music, high school students, and a winning basketball team. A lot of the modern clothing, music, and language seem to make the movie more intense and relatable. In the movie, Odin James (Mekhi Phifer) performs as a parallel to Othello, an african american teenager whose tragic flaw is jealousy. Hugo Goulding (Josh Hartnett) feeds off of Odin’s jealousy and decides he wants to play mind games on him to get what he wants. He does this by starting rumors about Odin’s girlfriend Desi (Julia Stiles) and Odin’s right hand man Michael Cassio (Andrew Keegan). Hugo is seen as a suave and honest kid but we all know that is not who he is. Tim Blake Nelson does a good job of following the play but doesn’t get a lot of the main relationships and details that are pertinent in Othello. Desi and Emily (Rain Phoenix), Desi’s best friend, do not have the same close and honest relationship in the movie as they did in Othello. Even though you get a little sense of their best friendship in the movie, you don’t see a full relationship development as you would see in the play. A lot of Desdemona and Emilia’s important and significant dialogue is missing from the movie. If you’ve read Othello, you would know that Desdemona and Emilia have a strong connections towards the end of the play; and in the movie, their relationship didn’t develop but stayed the same throughout the entire movie. In the movie, Emily seems like she is afraid of Desi by the way she walked around her and talked to her. It didn’t give off a good vibe to their best friendship. Emilia and Desdemona are definitely more important than Nelson put out there. Other than the missing pieces about Desi and Emily’s relationship, Nelson does a good job of still addressing the topic of racism. In the play there are various examples of racism towards Othello and it is also evident in the movie that Odon also does not fit into his surroundings. In Elizabethan times, a black man could not marry a white woman; and even though now it is acceptable, some people do not have those same views. In the movie, Nelson focuses on a lot of issues that still need to be worked on and how, even now, racism is still relevant. Nelson’s interpretation is to the point, with not an explicit amount of detail regarding characters and character development. Although, some scenes in the movie were spot on and really gave a visual to how that scene actually could’ve happen in the play, Othello.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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