Review: ‘Hamlet X’

"Hamlet X" is an uncompromising collage on themes of guilt and identity. Created by Australian multimedia maverick James Clayden, pic hangs its sensory assault on an ex-prisoner whose personality gradually assumes that of Shakespeare's Dane. Fests and art galleries are the likeliest venues for this striking and strictly outre offering.

An auteur work in the truest sense, “Hamlet X” is an uncompromising collage on themes of guilt and identity. Created by Australian multimedia maverick James Clayden, pic hangs its sensory assault on an ex-prisoner whose personality gradually assumes that of Shakespeare’s Dane. Fests and art galleries are the likeliest venues for this striking and strictly outre offering.

Trippy assemblage is only incidentally concerned with narrative. What little there is centers on an unnamed ex-con (Tom Wright), who’s located in a deserted office block with a woman friend (Helen Hopkins) and is apparently rehearsing for a production of Hamlet. Flashbacks of the man’s past are intercut with his unstable present and growing identification with the Shakespearean character. Pic propels auds into the fragile mind of the protag with a relentless accumulation of jagged sound and image. Repetition and reprocessing of footage and a soundtrack mixing dislocated dialogue with industrial noise gives the film a genuinely haunting quality. Resulting heavy trip is a touch overlong and will polarize audiences, but does display Clayden as a creative force to be reckoned with. Tech credits are pro, with audioscape a standout.

Hamlet X

Australia

Production

A James Clayden production. (International sales: James Clayden, Melbourne.) Produced, directed, written, edited by Clayden.

Crew

Camera (color, DV, Super 8, 16mm to DVD), Clayden; music, Ad Hoc; sound (Dolby Digital), Clayden. Reviewed at Melbourne Film Festival, Aug. 3, 2004. Running time: 118 MIN.

With

Tom Wright, Helen Hopkins, Faruk Avdi, Ian Scott, Shelley Lasica.
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