Directed by Justin Kurzel
Written by Jacob Koskoff, Michael Lesslie, and Todd Louiso
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Paddy Considine, Sean Harris, Jack Reynor, Elizabeth Debicki, and David Thewlis
With “Macbeth” Justin Kurzel delivers an adaptation of William Shakespear’s play that is gritty, violent, and feels very much like an episode of “Game of Thrones.” Many of Shakespear’s tragedies share themes and characteristics with “Game of Thrones,” regicide, ambition, power struggles, Characters who are not always straight black and white, and the whole killing the major characters thing. “Macbeth,” of all Shakespear’s tragedies, is the one that is the most similar to “Game of Thrones.” Considering the global popularity of “Game of Thrones” and because “Macbeth” is akin to a standard of popular music, it seemed fitting that someone once again brings Shakespear’s classic to the big screen.
“Macbeth” has stunning cinematography by Adam Arkapaw, the movie is a gorgeous film to watch. The film uses a bleak color palate the reflects the gritty tone of Kurzel’s adaptation. There is an incredible shot in the movie saturated with red and orange and just looks fantastic on camera. Every shot in the film is composed so well, that nothing appears wasted.
The greatest Strength of “Macbeth” lies in the performances of the two stars, Michael Fassbender as the titular Macbeth and Marion Cotillard as Lady Macbeth. Fassbender delivers a low-key performance that slowly builds as Macbeth falls deeper and deeper into his paranoia. Fassbender’s performance in the movie is at its best in the scene where he sees Banquo’s ghost. That is the scene that sold me on his performance, before that scene I found his performance to be too low-key and was being to think that it was a mistake to cast Fassbender as Macbeth. Then you get to the Banquo’s ghost scene, and it was clear to me that he was building his performance so that it climaxes at that scene. Cotillard was the strongest performance in the film. Her performance was exceptional, and I thought that she had nailed Lady Macbeth. I felt her ambition and her slow realization of what her actions had gotten herself and her husband into.
Overall, I thought that Kurzel had directed the film well, I liked his gritty version of “Macbeth,” and I liked a lot of the choices he made to tell the story. The Witches and Banquo’s ghost, while supernatural in nature, do not appear in the film as something supernatural. They appear as part of the natural world, and because they do not appear explicitly supernatural, it helps sell the state of Macbeth’s paranoia. However, there is a lot of slow motion used in the opening battle scene that seems out of place. Every time the slow motion started, it made me scratch my head and just felt weird.
There is one minor thing that bugs me about the movie; it is more of an aside than a criticism. At the start of the film when the Sergeant recounts the battle to Duncan and says that Macbeth had “unseamed [Macdonwald] from the nave to th’ chops, And fixed his head upon our battlements.” The imagery that goes along with this statement is not of Macbeth bringing his sword up from the nave to the chops, but of Macbeth decapitating Macdonwald. I wanted to see the unseaming, not the beheading. I always had loved that image of Macbeth driving his sword into Macdonwald and slicing the sword upward from the belly button to the throat, and because Kurzel was doing a gritty “Macbeth,” I was hoping to see it in the movie. Oh well, although it would have made the movie so much better.