In Stoppard's play, Hamlet is something semiinexplicable that “happens” to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, while the screenplay turns it into something they're obliged to chase after; unfortunately, Stoppard's sense of film is so inferior to his feeling for the stage that he makes the same compromises and reductions a Hollywood hack might have brought to the material. The film certainly has its moments; but moments is all they are.
The main reason to watch Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead now—beyond getting the gist of a important piece of theater history—is to watch Oldman and Roth play off each other like a couple of spry young athletes, rapidly batting Stoppard’s dialogue back-and-forth... But as a record of two of British acting’s best? This film’s a reminder of why Oldman and Roth were such a big deal in 1990, and why they still play even their supporting parts as though they’re the stars of the show.