Director Tim Blake Nelson sets Shakespeare's OTHELLO in a modern day private high school and the result is a dark, somber teen tragedy. Mekhi Phifer (CLOCKERS) stars as Odin James, an African American star basketball player at the otherwise all-white school. The coach of the team (Martin Sheen) loves Odin like a son, which causes real son Hugo (Josh Hartnett) to squirm with jealousy and plan an elaborate revenge. Julia Stiles (a modern dress Shakespeare regular, having also co-starred in HAMLET and TEN THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU) is Desi, the virginal daughter of the dean, with whom Odin is in love. The ensuing outburst of tragic teen violence is a shocking denouement that elevates the already dangerous mood of the film to full-fledged terror.
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