Daniel Elihu Kramer deserves credit for daring to adapt William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” in a contemporary American setting. Sadly, the audacity of the concept did not translate into a satisfactory film.
Kramer brutally cut the play to accommodate a tight 76-minute running time. In the process, the soul of Shakespeare’s work was excised, and the audience is left with a Cliffs Notes summary of the plot.
It also doesn’t help that the actors have taken a mumblecore approach to Shakespeare’s language. As a result, the drama is dialed down substantially, resulting in a work that meanders when it should be racing. Patrick Shaw is the right age to play the young prince, but his slacker approach to the role contradicts the angst and fury that fuels the character’s actions.
There are some imaginative moments that place a contemporary spin on the action, most notably when Gertrude and Claudius are shown watching television while lying together in bed. But for the most part, “Kitchen Hamlet” never quite makes the grade.