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rosencrantz-and-guildenstern-are-deadGreat plays can frequently make great movies.  See “Glengary Glenross.”  But sometimes the visually limited scope of a play can turn its movie counterpart into an unendurable exercise in dramatic claustrophobia.  Tom Stoppard’s legendary deconstruction of two minor Shakespearean characters is ripe with ideas that consistently engage the intellect, but is as ideal for cinematic adaptation as a bear shitting in the woods.  “RAGAD” is visually bland, needlessly stretched out and dramatically turgid at all turns.  Not falling asleep while watching it is impossible.  Though the intellectual current of his acclaimed stage work is completely intact, Stoppard has no means to turn the material into an involving movie.  Tim Roth, Gary Oldman and Richard Dreyfuss engage themselves as only pros of their standing could hope to achieve, bringing as much life and humanity to those who are deconstructed and/or clueless as possible.  But Stoppard’s film keeps their efforts at arms length.  He never attempts to reach out emotionally to his audience in any shape or form.  He’s simply trying to coast on a sound foundation of intellectual jabbering.  In the end, “RAGAD” feels a few steps above a filmed academic lecture on the nature of character development.  If anyone can stay awake for this drearily filmed exercise, you may eventually find yourself captivated by and appreciating the ideas it’s expressing.  But if that doesn’t occur, you’re likely to zone out and fall into coma.

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