Justin Kurzel's new adaptation of Shakespeare's violent tragedy is visually arresting, and beautifully scored by the director. The language may not always be as crisp and beautifully enunciated as a theatre production, but that is secondary to creating a film where emotion is conveyed on the face and physically, creating an atmosphere of tortured intentions and motivations that is rightly sinister and tragic. The result is a movie that isn't slavish to the text and has a unique vision of how this well-worn story should be told.
MACBETH opens with husband and wife burying their children in a scene that makes explicit what many readers have often guessed at. It explains something of Lady Macbeth's language regarded her femininity and also how they would turn inward and pin all their hopes on a political future. Accordingly, they are ready for the seeds sown by the three witches - here not macabre obviously mystical creatures but deceptively straight-coward Scottish peasant-women. Shockingly quickly this turns into a murder plot that escalates and yet gives no satisfaction.
Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard bring real depth and nuance to their performances as the couple ripped apart by mutual guilt and paranoia. But I almost feel that the performances are overshadowed by the general production design and cinematography. What I remember from this film aren't specific performances or even soliloquies but individual visual moments. Adam Arkapaw's cinematography is gorgeous. He captures a delicate sunlight through mist and fog. But at key moments in battle, director Justin Kurzel slows down the authentically grim battle footage with freeze-motion shots that look like tableaux. It's quite stunning and resurrects the use of a technique that Zack Snyder has done so much to cheapen. This is lush sensory film-making of the highest quality.
MACBETH has a running time of 113 minutes and is rated R. The movie played Cannes 2015 and is currently on release in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Ireland and Greece. The movie will open in Germany and Hungary on October 29th; in Iceland on November 6th; in Vietnam on November 13th; in France on November 18th; in Russia, Singapore, Mexico and Poland on November 27th; in South Korea, Lebanon, the USA, India, Kuwait, Bulgaria, Canada and Turkey on December 10th; in Argentina and Denmark on December 17th; in Bosnia, Brazil, Estonia, Spain, Finland and Norway on December 25th; in Italy and Sweden on January 6th 2016; in the Philippines and Chile on January 14th; in Indonesia on January 27th and in Japan in June.