From David N. Butterworth@21:1/5 to All on Sun Jul 31 11:21:13 2016
A film review by David N. Butterworth
Copyright 2016 David N. Butterworth
*** (out of ****)
There have been precisely umpteen-plus film and television productions of Shakespeare's Scottish tragedy: straight up and sly and silly and surreal variants, from 1955's "Joe MacBeth" ("Macbeth" in a "modern" gangster
setting) to 2001's "Rave Macbeth" ("Macbeth" in a rave). Then there's the three-and-a-half hour futuristic Japanese "Mad Max"-inspired "Metal
Macbeth" (2007), "Siberian Lady Macbeth" (a Russo-Shakespearean noir set in 19th Century Mtsensk!) from 1962, and this year's "Macbeth Unhinged," which takes place entirely in the confines of a stretch limousine.
And, of course, there are the classics: Polanski's "Macbeth" and
Welles' "Macbeth" and Kurosawa's "Macbeth" (aka "Throne of Blood"); the imaginings and the re-imaginings and the re-re-imaginings truly seem
Australian director Justin Kurzel's 2015 "Macbeth" is mostly about the look and the feel--gritty, grimy, misty, bloody, sexy--and the
performances, with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, the Peter
O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn of their generation, playing the ambitious, immoral Thane of Glamis and his outed, damn-spotted missus, respectively.
This is good 'n' earthy stuff, with Fassbender and Cotillard both fully committed to their 21st Century interpretations, spitting and whispering
and yelling and sobbing alongside a fine supporting cast made up of Paddy Considine as Banquo, Jack Reynor as Malcolm, Sean Harris as Macduff, and
David Thewlis as Duncan. There are some excellent witches too.
In Kurzel's version, the language lives and his vision is brutal and "Braveheart"-y (right on down to the Caramel deLite-ful war paint), with
enough fresh flourishes and subtle upgrades to keep the story alive (the
Birnam Wood coming to Dunsinane Hill explication is inspired). Adding to
the whole immersive experience is the film's haunting score (by the
director's brother Jed), an electronic thrum that slowly claws its way into your upper midbrain, and Adam Arkapaw's stunning cinematography--dust
motes, snowflakes, and wood ash all hang tentatively in the air, battle
scenes are slowed to sublimity, and there's an outrageously orange ending.
If you have to justify yet another "Macbeth" to Bob and Harvey
Weinstein then this ain't a half bad way to do it.