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Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead 1990 ***

Tom Stoppard’s wonderfully literate take on the inner-lives of the minor characters from Hamlet is adapted for the screen in sprightly fashion for this 1990 film which he directed himself. Gary Oldman and Tim Roth display exactly the right kind of chemistry as the squabbling two-some, caught up in the intrigue of the Elsinore court, but gradually becoming aware that their destinies are not their own. Stoppard’s prose has not always been served well by cinema; as director, he gives full vent to the ingenious wordplay; the analogy between death and boats shows his gift for verbal dexterity at its best. Richard Dreyfuss handles the innuendos of the Player King with skill, and while the wordy quality may not appeal to everyone, Stoppard fashions a faithful record of a memorably clever play.

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