I read Tom Stoppard’s play in college, and had never had a
chance to see it, so I put this
movie on my Netflix Watch Now queue when I noticed it. It’s
directed by Stoppard himself, and has a cast with some notable
stars in it.
It was one of the high points of that course in college — we
read a lot of good literature but most of it was stuff I’d read
already — this was an example of something I wouldn’t have read
on my own but really enjoyed.
The memorable scenes are all really good. There’s some less
memorable stuff that doesn’t get too tedious in between. As you
would expect, the parts that Shakespeare wrote are pretty
conventionally acted, except for bringing out the conceit that
nobody, including the two characters themselves, can remember
which is which. I gave it 3 stars.
If you don’t know the play and want to know whether you want
to, here are the parts I remembered fondly from reading it:
- R. and G. play a game of “Questions”, where you have to
always ask a question and it can’t be a non-sequitur or a
rhetorical question. Then after their first encounter with
Hamlet they score it by those rules.
- They try to decide whether Hamlet is mad today based on his
“when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw,”
speech, and fail to determine the direction of the wind, where
North is, or the time of day.
- The statement that toenails never grow.
You can see some of these quotes out of context at imdb.com,
but it really isn’t one-liner humor.