Hamlet Meta-Treated Twice Over in Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Undead

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Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Undead
Directed by Jordan Galland
Indican Pictures and C Plus Pictures
Opens June 4, Village East

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Hamlet gets the meta-treatment in Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Undead, a hipster vampire farce that layers genre goofs over a twisted re-staging of the play. That a similar—if less gruesome—spin-off already exists (Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead) only adds to the film’s antic mash-up vibe. “Doesn’t anyone make anything up anymore?” complains Julian (Jake Hoffman), after learning that Theo (John Ventimiglia), a distinctly wan writer who has commissioned him to direct his Hamlet remix, has put an autobiographical spin on the material. All of the riffs are twice and thrice removed, but the effect is lively rather than tiresome, largely on the strength of game performances, Sean Lennon’s atmospheric score, and writer/director Jordan Galland’s clear affection for his sources. The Byzantine plot has Theo, a Romanian letch and stone vampire, staging his version of Hamlet in the hopes of luring the prince himself—who broke the vampire’s curse and has been curing the undead for centuries—through the veils of time to finally settle their score. Only the director is safe, and when he starts losing cast members (most memorably a fully committed Kris Lemche in the lead role), some serious stake-driving action—involving Ralph Macchio as a mooky boyfriend and Jeremy Sisto as a chatty detective—must be taken.

 
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