This is the very painting of your fear.
Stylish and atmospheric, yet eminently faithful to the original text, Justin Kurzel’s sophomore mastering of the classic Shakespeare tragedy Macbeth is an accomplished, resonant piece.With but one indie flick under his belt, director Justin Kurzel takes an impressive leap to tackle one of Shakespeare’s most elusive plays as an intriguing stepping-stone on his way to the long-awaited adaptation of the popular video-game series Assassin’s Creed, which will reunite him with his very own Macbeth, Michael Fassbender. And if this is anything to go by, hopefully Assassin’s Creed will be more than just a Christmas-released summer blockbuster.Rising to the challenge of interpreting the murky Scottish bloodbath, Kurzel reworks and refashions the source text into a lyrical narration of largely visual events, playing out the rich material in all its bloody glory, but also streamlining it into a more accessible, abbreviated form (although arguably losing some memorable moments) which retains the core components of betrayal and murder and destructive ambition, played out within an eminently authentic period setting.
There’s no doubt that the end result is a visual work of art, boasting some visually striking set-pieces that even the most devout Shakespeare expert may not have thought imaginable from this tale, and bringing the best out of a dedicated core of performers who seem veritably comfortable expressing their anguish and woe in what is all-but a foreign tongue.
The poetic but dense text may tease with its frustrating elusiveness but the meaning is both visually and emotionally conveyed as clear as day for those who want to see.
Fassbender towers over the proceedings, bringing tragedy and madness to the lead role, with able support from a suitably consumed Marion Cotillard as Lady Macbeth, Paddy Considine as his brother-in-arms, Banquo and Sean Harris, on fire-spitting form as Macduff. With a haunting score (from Kurzel’s brother, Jed) and impressive cinematography from Adam Arkapaw (True Detective), it’s a magnificent attempt at tackling the evasive material and, whilst it requires of audiences a dedication to understanding the near-impenetrable dialogue, it rewards such patience richly.
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