I think I’d rather fill my mind with scorpions than sit through this again.
Despite a powerhouse performance by Fassbender, Justin Kurzel’s adaptation of the renowned Shakespearean play didn’t quite do it for me.
Macbeth (Michael Fassbender), the Thane of Glamis, receives a prophecy from a trio of witches that one day he will become King of Scotland (David Thewlis). Consumed by ambition and spurred to action by his wife (Marion Cotillard), Macbeth murders his king and takes the throne for himself.
Fassbender (Steve Jobs) was brilliant. I couldn’t think of anybody better to take on the iconic role of the demented King. This adaptation brought back school boy nostalgia. Unfortunately NOT in a good way. Macbeth is certainly not the best Shakespearean play to break into for a newbie. This only reminded me of what an arduous chore it was to analyse and decipher the soliloquies back in GCSE English just to get the gist of what was going on.
Adam Arkapaw’s cinematography was sublime. It really made the murky Scottish back drop a sight to see. After a strong and graphic opening with the Thane claiming victory on the battlefield, the film soon set off on a snail’s pace. The elongated panning shots. The long stares. I could feel my eyes drooping.
Maybe I wasn’t as much of a fan as I thought. I preferred Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Hamlet. An overtly lavish and grandiose affair BUT at least it was riveting and mesmerizing. For a story of betrayal, greed and madness, not a lot happened. A lot of the gruesome stuff was told in the horribly droll speeches and never shown. That’s not to say I need gore to keep my attention BUT it was incredibly hard going, dull and drawn out.
As much as Fassbender’s performance kept things watchable, I felt Roman Polanski’s 1971 version tackled the subject matter a lot better and was much more engaging and accessible. The screenwriters tried to make little changes BUT it just didn’t work. The witches’ coven, for example. I always remember there being three. Instead we have an ensemble of women and children. BUT what was the relevance? None, apparently. Even more ironic when only three of them spoke.
Paddy Considine (Dead Man’s Shoes) wasn’t in this enough as Banquo. His absence was sorely missed in this lifeless affair. David Thewlis (Seven Years in Tibet) had the easiest job going as Duncan. He didn’t do a bad job for the two scenes he featured in.
Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose) was the perfect choice for Lady Macbeth. A role I hoped she would sink her teeth into BUT she was far too passive and weak. I always perceived Lady Macbeth as this devious and influential mastermind. BUT in this adaptation, she did absolutely nothing. A shame. I’m not sure whether it was the writers or Cotillard’s interpretation of the role BUT it didn’t work and she didn’t deliver the lines with enough conviction.
It was strange to see Sean Harris (Prometheus) as a good guy. BUT his demeanour and performance as MacDuff made me root for Macbeth more. By the end of the play, I knew Macbeth had lost it. BUT whether it was down to a lack of chemistry from Harris or too much charisma from Fassbender, the drawn out combat sequence was a real challenge as my loyalty was already decided NOT torn.
I don’t think I’m going to be able to wash my hands clean of this mess. Tough viewing. Any newbies thinking of trying to approach Shakespeare on the big screen may want to steer clear. This is one for the die hards.