A basketball star at an exclusive prep school (Mehki Phifer) incurs the resentment of his coach’s son (Josh Hartnett), who plots to bring him down by planting jealousy over the star’s girlfriend (Julia Stiles). Writer Brad Kaaya and director Tim Blake Nelson transplant Shakespeare’s Othello
scene-for-scene to an American high school, with surprisingly strong results. Inevitably, the Bard’s story is diminished, yet the adaptation has its virtues: if nothing else, it makes a good intro to the play for high school English classes. Nelson’s direction is brooding and intense, drawing excellent performances, especially from Phifer and Hartnett, whose handsome blankness adds menace to the Iago character. Martin Sheen plays Hartnett’s father, the coach, and John Heard is Stiles’ father, dean of the school.