Directed by Justin Kurzel
Country: UK / USA / France
Leaning on resplendent visuals and morbid overtones, this reborn “Macbeth” infuses some fresh air in the Shakespeare’s Scottish tragedy whose cinematic high point was reached with Orson Welles’ 1948 memorable adaptation of the play.
The Australian Justin Kurzel, who had been absent from the big screen since 2011 when he made his debut with the fact-based crime drama, “Snowtown”, stylishly directed the film, which can be rendered as psychologically intense and darkly pungent. Working from a script by Jacob Koskoff, Todd Louiso, and Michael Lesslie, Mr. Kurzel rebuilds the tragedy, remaining faithful to the Shakespeare’s core but injecting his own style and tone.
Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard play the Macbeths with both amplitude and assertiveness, conveying a raw idea about the limitless ambition that vehemently shoves them into the throne of Scotland, but through an evil path.
Regarded as a mighty warrior, Macbeth (Fassbender), vanquishes the Crown’s opponents in the fierce battles of the civil war, gaining the admiration and respect of King Duncan (David Thewlis). In the course of the final battle, three women prophesy he will become the king of Scotland in a near future. With this tenacious idea in his head, and manipulated by Lady Macbeth (Cotillard), his bitter wife who still grieves the death of their son, the valiant soldier surreptitiously murders the king, his guest for a day. This is a particularly disturbing scene since the unhesitating Macbeth sticks the dagger into the king’s chest, slowly and relentlessly. However, from then on, and even crowned king, a dark cloud falls upon him, bringing disgrace and turning his life miserable. Engulfed by guilt and struggling with an ominous sense of malediction that drives him gradually insane, Macbeth tries to mend his mistakes as the adversities become more and more suffocating.
Dirty but never vulgar, the somber drama is dense with words and filled with superstition, placing its focus on a devastating moral crisis that can be absorbed by following the beautiful compositions that inhabit in Adam Arkapaw’s rousing cinematography. Laborious are the exhaustive speech lines whose theatrical expression Mr. Kurzel opted not to remove. Also, a few battle scenes presented in slow-motion didn’t convince me as they intensify the graphic violence with no particular winnings. Imperfect and yet pulsating, this contemporary “Macbeth” can live by itself.