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Film: "O"

O is an adaptation of William Shakespeare's Othello set in high school. It's better than it sounds.

Odin (Mekhi Phifer) is the only black student at Palmetto Grove and also the star basketball player, with hopes of reaching the NBA. His best friend, Hugo (Josh Hartnett), is jealous of Odin's success and attempts to ruin him by making him believe that his girlfriend Desi (Julia Stiles) is carrying an affair. It gets worse.


O offers examples of:

  • Adaptation Name Change - Done in such a way that the names are still recognizable if you're familiar with the original play. (Othello is Odin, Iago is Hugo, etc.)
  • Axes at School - Not exactly but close enough that it made people uncomfortable.
  • Billing Displacement - Mekhi Phifer is given less prominence in much of the promotional materials than Josh Hartnett and Julia Stiles; the poster has him tiny at the bottom while Hartnett and Stiles are two floating heads looming above him.
    • Of course, it can be argued that Hugo is the main character, making it a more justifiable example of this trope.
  • Book Ends - Hugo's speech about hawks opens and closes the film.
  • Butt Monkey - Roger.
  • The Chessmaster - Hugo.
  • Driven to Suicide - Odin.
  • Drugs Are Bad - Hugo is addicted to steroids.
  • For the Evulz - Downplayed from the original play in which Iago's motivations were far more ambiguous and shifted often. Here Hugo's jealousy seems more genuine on account of his father paying more attention to Odin.
  • Freudian Excuse: Hugo is made much more sympathetic (though still an obvious bad guy) in this adaptation thanks to his father's extreme preference for Odin over his own son.
  • Jerk Jock - Michael often bullies Roger.
  • High School AU - To Othello.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident - The plan is for Hugo to kill Michael and Odin to kill Desi with the intention of making it look like a murder-suicide between them. The plan goes awry when Hugo's friend Roger shoots Michael in the leg, making it obvious that someone else had shot him.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation - All things considered it's a fairly faithful adaptation of the original play. It's a testament to Shakespeare how well it still holds up.
  • Shout-Out - The Bard himself is referenced early on.
  • Slut Shaming: Michael invokes this DoubleStandard by making fun of Brandy the girl he is sleeping with behind her back calling her a slut.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy - Hugo's father is this, often spending more time with Odin than his own son.

NovocaineFilms of 2000 - 2004 The One

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