O (2001) - Synopsis

Othello - synopsis headingA contemporary retelling of Othello, Shakespeare's timeless tale of treachery and jealousy, O (2001) will introduce a new audience to the genius of William Shakespeare and some of his most intriguing and tragic characters. Set in an elite private school locared deep in the new American South, Mekhi Phifer portrays NBA hopeful Odin James, the only black student at the school. Playing the point guard position, Odin is a basketball scout's dream, possessing the talent and poise to go straight from high school to the pros. Odin not only enjoys widespread popularity with the students, he is dating Desi Brable (Julia Stiles), the beautiful daughter of the Dean of Palmetto Grove Academy (John Heard). The envy of all their friends, Odin and Desi have found what many others lack - a love that is deep, honest, and pure.

Odin's best friend, Hugo Goulding (Josh Hartnett), drawn closely from Shakespeare's nefarious Iago, is a starting forward on the basketball team, and the son of Coach Duke Goulding (Martin Sheen). Hugo has been asked by his father to look out for Odin because of the particular pressures facing him at Palmetto Grove. Yet Hugo is bitterly envious of Odin and the attention Odin receives from the coach and everyone else at school. An introspective and somewhat mysterious young man, Hugo seeks to manipulate those around him to his own private ends.

Placed by his own father in the role of Odin's confidante, Hugo is, in reality, seeking to destroy the very person he pretends to befriend. Striking at the very core of Odin's soul, Hugo convinces him that Desi is having an affair with another member of the basketball team, Michael Casio (Andrew Keegan).

Meanwhile, Hugo's rich roommate Roger Rodriguez (Elden Henson), will do anything to be popular. Desperately in love with Desi, Roger becomes another pawn in Hugo's dark scheme. Even Hugo's girlfriend Emily (Rain Phoenix), succumbs to his machinations, playing a part in her roommate Desi's downfall.

As the basketball season comes to a dramatic finish, conflict among the six friends escalates into irrevocable tragedy when Hugo executes a plan prompting Odin to throw away all that he cares about most - the woman he loves, his very bright future, his very soul.