Familiarity with Shakespeare’s Othello
is tantamount to your enjoying this modern update of the tragedy. In fact, I recommend you read the play before seeing this, because the characters’ actions might seem ridiculous without knowledge of the play. As it is, director Tim Blake Nelson has created yet another interesting retelling of the Bard’s work. Mekhi Phifer is outstanding as the title character, a high school basketball star with a big future but an unfortunate tendency to trust the wrong people. Josh Hartnett is excellent as Hugo (a modern Iago) who convinces O that his girl Desi (Julia Stiles) has been unfaithful. Again, this movie probably does not work without basic knowledge of the play. I can’t stress that enough.