Posted: 05/31/2010


Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Undead

by Del Harvey

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This multi-star packed indie is worthy of viewing if you like quirky, intelligent films about vampires, the undead, and references to famous plays. Written and directed by Jordan Galland, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Undead was released in 2009 and is has just been released to DVD. The film’s title refers to a fictitious play-within-the-movie, which is a comic reinterpretation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and its aftermath. The cast also includes such stars as Devon Aoki, John Ventimiglia, Kris Lemche, Ralph Macchio, Jeremy Sisto and Waris Ahluwalia. The film stars Jake Hoffman (Dustin Hoffman’s son). An original musical score was composed and performed by Sean Lennon.

The story: Julian Marsh (Jake Hoffman), an unemployed young lothario, is pressured by his father, a well-known doctor, (Chip Zien) to accept a job directing an off-Broadway play called Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Undead, which is described as a rather unusual adaptation of Hamlet. The play was written by the mysterious and ultra-pale Romanian Theo Horace (John Ventimiglia), a vampire who has just killed a beautiful young woman (Bijou Phillips).

Under great familial pressure and unaware of the danger surrounding the play, Julian casts his best friend Vince (Kris Lemche) as Hamlet and uses his new job to impress his ex-girlfriend and aspiring actress, Anna (Devon Aoki). But Julian soon discovers that his darling Anna has taken up with shady businessman Bobby Bianchi (Ralph Macchio), with reputed ties to the Mafia.

Once Anna is cast as Ophelia, she slowly becomes involved with Theo. The roles of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in Theo’s play are filled by Carlo (Carlos Velazquez) and Mickey (Mike Landry), two narcissistic actors as foolish as the characters they are cast to play. Opening night draws near and people begin to die. Two bumbling New York City detectives (Jeremy Sisto and Lou Carbonneau) pursue the rogue’s gallery suspects as the movie builds to its climactic sequence.

Both intelligent and silly at once, Rosencratz and Guilderstern Are Undead takes advantage of every known device and opportunity to create laughs, whether tongue-in-cheek or side-splitting. The film is a charmer, and features some very talented actors who put great effort into the plot. The result is simply great fun.

For more information about the film, click here My advice, seek this one out and have a great time gathered around the home theatre this weekend with some friends.

Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly, a film teacher, a writer and a film critic in Chicago.

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