Watch Macbeth if you like your Shakespeare slick and relentlessly bleak. Michael Fassbender gives an awards-worthy clinic as the flawed, tortured king. But a word of warning: this story is not for everyone; and I recommend doing your homework. I’ve never studied ‘The Scottish Play’ and I found the language equal parts beautiful and frustrating (compounded by some thick Scottish accents!). But the broad strokes are easy to follow and the cinematography is to die for!
A short while into a smorgasbord of beautiful, haunting imagery, I remembered that the director is one Justin Kurzel, the Aussie wunderkind behind locally produced masterpiece of trauma-drama, Snowtown. Kurzel is an inspired choice to helm this adaptation; his flair for striking visuals and inventive editing is reminiscent of vintage Darren Aronofsky. The cast is brilliant across the board. In particular, Cotillard excels as Lady Macbeth and Fassbender crackles with brooding intensity. (Yes, I have a man-crush on this bloke!)
Unfortunately, some motifs are overwrought; the score is too zealous, and the incessant close-ups of adversarial characters become tiresome. Perhaps, like the protagonist, the filmmakers themselves are victims of ambition. But Shakespeare is about the artistry of words and, above-all, acting – where this Macbeth delivers.