Let The Devil Wear Black

  • 2000
  • Movie
  • R
  • Drama

Hamlet as neo-noir thriller. Shot in 1998 and released direct-to-video in 2000 after playing film festivals, this stylish reimagining of Shakespeare's tragedy takes its title from Act 3, Scene 2 ("Nay, then, let the devil wear black, for I'll have a suit of sables") — an unfortunate choice, both because it makes the film sound like a horror picture...read more

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Reviewed by Frank Lovece
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Hamlet as neo-noir thriller. Shot in 1998 and released direct-to-video in 2000 after playing film festivals, this stylish reimagining of Shakespeare's tragedy takes its title from Act 3, Scene 2 ("Nay, then, let the devil wear black, for I'll have a suit of sables") — an unfortunate choice, both because it makes the film sound like a horror picture and because it calls attention to an absurd plot point near the end. (An assassin unconvincingly confuses a man in a gray suit with a woman — the delectably unmanly Jacqueline Bisset, no less — in a black suit.) Los Angeleno Jack Lyne (cowriter Jonathan Penner) is still in mourning six weeks after the death of his father (Chris Sarandon), the beloved owner of 50 strip clubs and bars — and the valuable land beneath. Distressed by his mother's (Bisset) decision to sell her half of dad's empire to sleazy Uncle Carl (Jamey Sheridan), Jack goes through his father's financial records in an attempt to familiarize himself with the family business. A vision of his dying dad leads him to an empty pill-capsule that he later learns contained prescription adrenaline — a fatal drug for a man taking heart medication. The venerable story plays out with Jack's patient yet unbalanced hometown girlfriend Julia (Mary Louise Parker, braving toplessness) in the Ophelia role, and the inevitable bloodbath at the end. The Yorick speech becomes an emergency-room meditation on the splinter of a deceitful friend's skull, which landed in Jack's eye after an earlier shootout. Handsomely photographed, the film successfully generates a CHINATOWN atmosphere of Los Angeles powerbrokers grown lethally dangerous — there's even a quick homage to that film ("My father! My uncle! My father! My uncle!"), along with a less-well-fitting paean to LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. The handsome and highly effective Penner is the husband of director-cowriter Stacy Title, a 1993 Short-Subject Oscar-nominee.

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  • Released: 2000
  • Rating: R
  • Review: Hamlet as neo-noir thriller. Shot in 1998 and released direct-to-video in 2000 after playing film festivals, this stylish reimagining of Shakespeare's tragedy takes its title from Act 3, Scene 2 ("Nay, then, let the devil wear black, for I'll have a suit o… (more)

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