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O (2001)

tomatometer

64

Average Rating: 6.1/10
Reviews Counted: 124
Fresh: 79 | Rotten: 45

Though well-intentioned and serious in its exploration of teen violence, O is an uneven experiment that doesn't quite succeed.

55

Average Rating: 5.3/10
Critic Reviews: 33
Fresh: 18 | Rotten: 15

Though well-intentioned and serious in its exploration of teen violence, O is an uneven experiment that doesn't quite succeed.

audience

58

liked it
Average Rating: 3/5
User Ratings: 35,833

My Rating

Movie Info

A modernized retelling of William Shakespeare's Othello, O changes its setting to an elite private school in the American South. Odin (Mekhi Phifer) is the only black student at Palmetto Grove and also the star basketball player, with hopes of reaching the NBA. A popular student, he is dating Desi Brable (Julia Stiles), the daughter of the school's dean (John Heard), and they are deeply devoted to each other despite their different backgrounds. His best friend Hugo (Josh Hartnett) is a starter

R,

Drama

Brad Kaaya

Feb 19, 2002

$15.5M

Lions Gate Films - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (129) | Top Critics (33) | Fresh (79) | Rotten (45) | DVD (16)

This arty melodrama is not likely to make teenage America get down with Shakespeare.

March 31, 2008 Full Review Source: Newsweek
Newsweek
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This transferral of the tragedy of the Moor to a contempo American high school is something that never should have gone further than a class assignment to see if it could be made to work.

March 25, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Credit, none the less, to the film-makers' game, unpatronising approach, and to Phifer and Stiles as compelling innocents.

January 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

In the end, the Shakespearean ideas collapse on film because of the youthful callowness of the characters.

September 28, 2001 Full Review Source: New York Observer
New York Observer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

On your already groaning Shakespeare for Teens video shelf, stack this one above 10 Things I Hate About You ... and quite a bit below Romeo + Juliet.

September 17, 2001 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's a doomy dirge of a movie, in which the protagonists, or at least the actors who play them, aren't equipped to handle their outsize passions.

September 7, 2001 Full Review Source: New York Magazine
New York Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The presence of old lags Martin Sheen and John Heard just beggars belief. What were they thinking?

July 6, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

It's highly enjoyable and well acted, with the Iago figure better motivated than in the original play, no single line of which has been retained except for the odd echo.

March 25, 2008 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

Helmer Nelson has fashioned a clever premise, helped along by a smart ensemble that manages to highlight Shakespeare's work without parodying it--no small accomplishment.

March 1, 2007 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

Hartnett never allows him to become a hissable villain, keeping Hugo shy of our sympathies, yet his every move is utterly believable.

December 30, 2006 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Long on the Shelf, O is well directed and decently acted, but its narrative, while more or less faithful to Shakespeare, tried to do too much, pushing the characters and their emotions to unreasonable and unconvincing extremes.

September 17, 2006 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

Leave it to Hollywood to make a bold, challenging film for teens (and adults) only to let it collect dust on a shelf as proposed release dates were set, then scratched, many times over.

January 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

A well crafted and thoughtful film.

January 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

There's an air of authenticity to the proceedings here, and stylistic pretension never obscures good storytelling.

May 21, 2005 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
Apollo Guide

Let the film stand on its own and not amiss controversy.

May 13, 2003 Full Review Source: BlackFilm.com
BlackFilm.com

An intriguing experiment on paper, but a throwaway onscreen.

March 10, 2003 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

While O does contain some good performances and a creative sense of direction by Tim Blake Nelson, the film never really becomes anything more than a curiosity.

January 10, 2003 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews
Reel Film Reviews

The film's top acting kudos go to Mekhi Phifer.

December 17, 2002 Full Review Source: About.com
About.com

This is definitely worth watching, thanks to the performances and Nelson's direction.

October 30, 2002 Full Review Source: ViewLondon
ViewLondon

I am happy to report that O does not do violence to, nor dumb down, its important themes.

October 21, 2002 Full Review Source: San Diego Metropolitan
San Diego Metropolitan

Othello may be the saddest of all Shakespeare's tragedies, and O captures its power in the storm-tossed emotions of modern teens.

October 15, 2002 Full Review Source: Cincinnati Enquirer
Cincinnati Enquirer

Perhaps overaware of its solemn literary inheritance, it tiptoes around sex and race, and, in turning Shakespeare's grown-ups into Dawson's Creek teens, jettisons much of the original's grandeur.

October 2, 2002 Full Review Source: Guardian [UK]
Guardian [UK]

An unnecessary addition to the cannon of cinematic Shakespeare.

September 17, 2002 Full Review Source: FilmFour.com
FilmFour.com

Audience Reviews for O

As I watched this movie I remembered that I had seen it before, I hate it when that happens.
April 20, 2011
purplemegan

Super Reviewer

Nothing comes between two people's love, like one person's jealously.
December 15, 2009
ScoopOnline
Wahida K

Super Reviewer

Actually a really great translation that didn't make a mockery of Shakespeare's work. Josh Harnett played a great Iago. It's interesting that this left more of a lasting impression on me that reading the play. Seeing all these things happen (especially when making the characters younger) really allows you to see the true sense of the meaning tragedy.
November 18, 2009
ythelastman89

Super Reviewer

It was cool until everybody died and the bad guy lived ^_^
August 26, 2009
EightThirty

Super Reviewer

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

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