Ophelia (2018 film)

Ophelia is a 2018 British-American romantic drama film directed by Claire McCarthy and written by Semi Chellas about the character of the same name from William Shakespeare's play Hamlet. Based on the novel by Lisa Klein, the film follows the story of Hamlet from Ophelia's perspective. It stars Daisy Ridley in the title role, alongside Naomi Watts, Clive Owen, George MacKay, Tom Felton and Devon Terrell.

Theatrical release poster
Directed byClaire McCarthy
Produced byDaniel Bobker
Sarah Curtis
Ehren Kruger
Paul Hanson
Screenplay bySemi Chellas
Based onHamlet
by William Shakespeare
by Lisa Klein
StarringDaisy Ridley
Naomi Watts
Clive Owen
George MacKay
Tom Felton
Devon Terrell
Music bySteven Price
CinematographyDenson Baker
Edited byLuke Dunkley
Covert Media
Bert Marcus Film
Fourthcoming Films
Distributed byIFC Films[1]
Release date
  • January 22, 2018 (2018-01-22) (Sundance)
  • June 28, 2019 (2019-06-28) (United States)
Running time
107 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
United States
Box office$224,410[2][3]

The film premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival[4] and had a limited release on June 28, 2019, followed by a digital release on July 2, 2019 by IFC Films. Critical reception was mixed, although Ridley's performance received acclaim.


As a rebellious and motherless child, Ophelia (Daisy Ridley) is taken into Elsinore Castle by Queen Gertrude (Naomi Watts) as one of her most trusted ladies-in-waiting. Queen Gerturde's brother-in-law Claudius is secretly in love with her and kisses her. She is approaching age with sadness. Queen Gerturde sends Ophelia to see a witch named Matilda and hands her a potion to get her youth again and desires 2 ounces of the witch's tonic. King Hamlet was murdered by his own brother Claudius. Claudius marries Queen Gertrude, Hamlet's mother. Hamlet bends the knee to Claudius, but is not happy about the wedding.

Ophelia captures the affections of the young Prince Hamlet (George MacKay). Hamlet confesses his love for Ophelia and they secretly marry. Hamlet vows to avenge his father's death and they will leave that place. The kingdom is on the brink of war amidst its own political intrigue and betrayal. King Claudius sets Ophelia up as a trap to see if Hamlet loves her. However, prior to this, Ophelia found poison in Claudius' coat, and she confesses this all to Hamlet while Claudius watches from afar. Ophelia tells Hamlet that they are being watched so they pretend to have nothing to do with each other; Hamlet walks away mad. Hamlet puts on a play that upsets King Claudius and Hamlet draws his sword out upon the king, and the King declares treason. Ophelia's father is killed.

King Claudius learns about Hamlet marrying Ophelia and he confronts her and she accuses him of accusing his lover of being a witch and having her killed; along with his only son. The King is enraged and has Ophelia locked into the dungeon. She escapes and acts like she has turned mad; so the queen has mercy upon her. Soldiers and the Queen run after Ophelia who takes drops of a sleeping drug from the witch to act dead. In her madness performance in front of the court she had instructed Horatio to dig her up once she is buried. He does and she flees. The Kingdom thinks she is dead; as the witch had done years before. Ophelia returns to the witch and discovers the witch had helped King Claudius kill King Hamlet; she has a undying lover for him and can not deny him what he wants. The Queen sees that Ophelia is alive and cuts her hair; since she is already dead. Ophelia sneaks in to speak with Hamlet before he fights her brother Laertes over the death of her father. As they fight Ophelia is rowing away in a boat and travels to get away to a new life. She had said her goodbye to her husband Hamlet; as she travels Hamlets fights and dies. Queen Gertrude goes to her dying sons side and then takes his sword and pushed it into the heart of King Claudius. The King dies while in a state of shock. The Queen takes poison and dies as the witch gently holds her body and is saddened. The kingdom is attacked and the members of the court are killed. The kingdom ends.

Ophelia, pregnant with Hamlet's child, runs in exile. Ophelia finally made it to the nunnery that her husband Hamlet told her to escape to. She gives birth and raises her daughter in love and peace. She learned to not go for vengeance and to carry on with her life. The film ends with Ophelia playing in the fields with her daughter.



On May 4, 2016, it was announced that Daisy Ridley and Naomi Watts would star in the drama film Ophelia based on the character of same name by William Shakespeare, the film would be based on the novel by Lisa Klein which Claire McCarthy would direct based on the script by Semi Chellas.[5] Covert Media would finance the film, while Daniel Bobker and Ehren Kruger would produce the film along with Sarah Curtis.[5] Bert Marcus is also executive producing the film.[6]

Filming began in April 2017, with a first look image released in May.[7] After three months, principal production wrapped on July 6, 2017. Academy Award winning composer Steven Price signed on to compose the musical score.


It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 22, 2018.[8] In February 2019, IFC Films acquired the US distribution rights to the film.[9] It was released on theaters at June 28, 2019.[10]

Critical reception

The film received mixed reviews, praising the production set, direction, and the performances, mostly Ridley, but criticizing the writing. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 60% based on 112 reviews. The site's critics consensus reads: "Flawed yet intriguing, Ophelia uses Hamlet as the starting point for a noble attempt to offer a misunderstood character long-overdue agency".[11] Metacritic gave it a score of 60 based on 22 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[12]

Additional reviews cited that the film is "moving, intoxicating, haunting: the most visually pleasurable film so far this year,"[13] and that it's "real entertainment," as "Daisy Ridley does first-rate work in the title role."[14] Other publications also praised Ridley citing that "Daisy Ridley may have been born to play these types of roles because Ophelia is strong and powerful, just like Rey,"[15] and she gives a "beautiful performance." [16] Rotund Reviews states that they "can’t praise this film enough and highly recommends checking it out."[15] Film Frenzy states that the film "offers an imaginative retelling of an acknowledged masterpiece from an alternate POV" and it's "definitely worth seeing and admiring. [17] Flixist also said that the film is "compelling," "visually striking" and the "score was one of [his] favourite parts of the film: compelling, forceful, unique." [18] RogerEbert.com praised the film stating that it contains "courage, intelligence, integrity, and agency" [19] and The Wrap agrees that it's a "lush, intelligent adaptation." [20]


  1. "Ophelia | Discover the best in independent, foreign, documentaries, and genre cinema from IFC Films. | IFC Films". Retrieved May 28, 2019 via www.ifcfilms.com.
  2. "Ophelia (2019)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved July 28, 2019.
  3. "Ophelis (2019)". The Numbers. Retrieved September 15, 2019.
  4. Debruge, Peter (2017-11-29). "Sundance Film Festival Unveils Full 2018 Features Lineup". Variety. Retrieved 2017-11-29.
  5. Jaafar, Ali (May 4, 2016). "Daisy Ridley & Naomi Watts In Final Talks To Star In 'Ophelia'; Covert Media Aboard New Take On 'Hamlet' – Cannes". Deadline. Retrieved May 6, 2016.
  6. "Ophelia". 22 January 2018 via www.imdb.com.
  7. "Daisy Ridley Photo from Ophelia - ComingSoon.net". ComingSoon.net. May 22, 2017. Retrieved May 23, 2017.
  8. Edelstein, David. "Daisy Ridley's Ophelia Is a Juicy, Crowd-Pleasing Shakespeare Revamp".
  9. Fleming Jr, Mike (February 9, 2019). "'Ophelia' With 'Star Wars' Daisy Ridley Set At IFC". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 9, 2019.
  10. Truitt, Brian (April 29, 2019). "See Daisy Ridley swap 'Star Wars' for Shakespeare in exclusive 'Ophelia' trailer". USA Today. Retrieved April 29, 2019.
  11. "Ophelia (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  12. "Ophelia". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 12, 2019.
  13. "Film Review: "Ophelia" is Revisionist, Romantic, Ravishing". The Arts Fuse. June 30, 2019.
  14. "The Aisle Seat - Ophelia". aisleseat.com.
  15. "Ophelia". June 27, 2019.
  16. "'Ophelia' Breathes New Life Into The Classic Tale Of 'Hamlet' With A Beautiful Performance From Daisy Ridley [Review]". theplaylist.net.
  17. "Ophelia: Play Melancholy". June 28, 2019.
  18. "Review: Ophelia". Flixist.
  19. Minow, Nell. "Ophelia movie review & film summary (2019) | Roger Ebert". www.rogerebert.com.
  20. "'Ophelia' Film Review: Daisy Ridley Gives Shakespeare's Tragic Heroine a Provocative Do-Over". June 26, 2019.
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