Title – Macbeth (2015)
Director – Justin Kurzel (Snowtown)
Cast – Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Paddy Considine, Jack Reynor, Sean Harris, David Thewlis
Plot – Solider to the King of Scotland, Macbeth (Fassbender) is driven to commit murderous acts after he receives prophetic instruction from a trio of witches on the battlefield telling him that he will one day sit upon the throne and rule as King of Scotland himself. Encouraged in his new ambitions by his wife Lady Macbeth (Cotillard), Macbeth sets out on a path of downwardly spiralling scenarios.
“O full of scorpions, is my mind”
Review by Eddie on 15/02/2016
In what’s a film that’s sure to delight the eyes and tickle the ears of Shakespearian fans the world over, Australian director Justin Kurzel has for his 2nd feature film (following on from the grizzly Australian crime classic Snowtown) showcased a love and a care for one of the great Bard’s most beloved tales that remains faithfully in tune with its source material to at times its own determinate but also showcases the up and coming directors incredible visual flair and ability with actors that will likely see him prosper in the industry for years to come.
Kurzel’s Snowtown was a gritty, grungy and downright dirty retelling of one of Australia’s most notorious mass murderers and while Macbeth is much larger in scale, the realism mixed with a sense of the otherworldly that was prevalent in his 2011 debut is on show once more here in the stunning backdrops of rural Scotland that at times feel drenched in the surreal.
A downright masterful opening that throws the viewer into a brutal and bloody battle or soldiers wondering through the waterlogged moors of the countryside with a blood orange haze of nearby fires raging about them, Kurzel and his cinematographer Adam Arkapaw (another standout Australian export) have created something truly special here and with a moody provocative score from Kurzel’s brother Jed, Macbeth is one of 2015’s most astutely produced features.
Front and centre to this immaculately designed drama is another powerhouse performance from Michael Fassbender who seems custom made for the world of Shakespeare. Thriving on the multilayered character of Macbeth, a man driven to insanity and battling his true nature, Fassbender is outstanding and is arguably one of the best seen incarnations of the famous solider who became king. With solid support from Marion Cotillard as Macbeth’s equally tormented wife Lady Macbeth and character actors such as Paddy Considine, Sean Harris and David Thewlis, Macbeth’s cast is universally excellent and almost make the ye olde English dialogue work.
While Shakespearian faithful will be twirling their perfectly pointed moustaches with delight, the often jarring and hard to decipher nature of much of Shakespeare’s wordsmithing is at times to much to bare and while it’s commendable that the filmmakers here backed themselves and their cast in to deliver, moments of emotion and tension are often held back by dialect that is both hard to deconstruct and difficult to take in over one viewing. At the heart and soul of Macbeth lies a rather uncomplicated narrative and it would’ve been a relief to see the story treated so in a scripted sense considering what’s lost here through frustratingly jarring dialogue.
A constantly impressive feature that is often stunningly well filmed and acted, Macbeth is a seriously well acted and directed drama that suggests Kurzel could well become one of Australia’s finest filmmaking exports and with his next film the potentially franchise starting Assassin’s Creed with his Macbeth stars Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, it’s highly likely that those in Hollywood are thinking the very same thing.
4 tension riddled dinner banquets out of 5
This was by far the best version of Macbeth I have seen. So gritty. And well acted. and I love the language!
Agreed on all but the language, it just fails to engage me but I’ve always found that with his written works. But yeh visually etc this was just awesome, every shot was a work of art.
Couldn’t agree more. Such a mesmeric, atmospheric piece. It gives me hope for Assassin’s Creed. Nice work!
Oh for sure mate, Assassin’s could be a real winner!
I agree that this was visually stunning and impactful, and somewhat enjoyed it, but as a Shakespeare fan who saw it with another Shakespeare fan, I felt (as did my friend) like he departed quite a bit from the source material. The characters’ primary motivation in the film isn’t mentioned in the play. The most shocking themes and scenes aren’t in the play at all. Some of the things don’t make visual sense (the weird sisters are out of time, wearing clothes that don’t make sense for the rest of the setting.) We felt that the director gave primacy to mood and shock value at the expense of the play.
Some interesting thoughts there, has been quite a few years since I’ve seen this on stage so my memory of it is somewhat vague but yeh visually this was outstounding.
This should have got a best cinematography nomination!
Agreed completely, every shot was like a work of art.
I really wanted to see this because I’m a bit of a Shakespeare fan and Macbeth in particular but it barely showed at my local cinema 😦
You’ll have to catch it ASAP Abbi, I think you’ll really enjoy it.
I really liked Kurzel’s vision, even if I agree with your review and some of the comments that he sometimes focused too much on the visuals and not enough on the plot. It’s too bad, as the visuals – especially the utterly creepy church – added so much depth to the story. Definitely one I feel I need to see more than once, again for some of the reasons you list.
Will have to check out Snowtown as well.
Snowtown is a must mate, a hugely impressive debut.
Pingback: Film Review – Assassin’s Creed (2016) | Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys)·
Pingback: Film Review – The True History of the Kelly Gang (2019) | Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys)·
Pingback: Film Review – Nitram (2021) | Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys)·
Pingback: Film Review – The Tragedy of Macbeth (2021) | Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys)·