I was lucky enough to catch an advanced IMAX screening of the new Joel Cohen directed Macbeth adaptation starring Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand and it was absolutely stunning.
Shakespeare is not the type of entertainment I generally rush to. The content often being ‘royals in trouble’ and iambic pentameter NOT sounding lyrical to me combined with ancient vocabulary tends to “pain thine olde gulliver (or whatever)”. When I have enjoyed it in the past it’s often been a modern representation; Baz Lurhmann’s kinetic 90’s Romeo and Juliet (no duh) or Ralph Fiennes’ gruff modern warfare Coriolanus (which I feel is grossly underrated).
My excitement level for The Tragedy of Macbeth was based solely on the A24 tag and the chance to see Denzel and Frances go toe to toe. Turns out Cohen has crafted an absolute masterpiece. All actors turn in incredible performances – character actor legend Stephen Root absolutely makes the most of his brief time and Alex Hassell turns in my personal favourite performance as Ross – whether classically trained or not but the transformation of the couple Macbeth is truly something to witness. Frances’ turn from cool and calculated into madness is beautifully sad and Denzel, who can’t help but be effortlessly charming, following through on a bloody premonition displays a power we haven’t seen from him in a while.
The true stars of this film however are the sets themselves. Shot entirely on sound stages, the elaborate sets and gorgeous cinematography rendered in a stark black and white give the picture an otherworldly feel. Never truly feeling like either film or stage adaptation the surroundings, lush and somehow also cold, help to create an undercurrent of unease of the Tragedy we know is coming.
I would highly recommend trying to catch this in theatres (and IMAX) if possible when it releases on Christmas Day. Nothing says “happy holidays” more than throne stealing premeditated murder.
Just One Dummies Opinion
“A Very Special list of Holiday Specials”
by Dan Ferrari