…or how I secretly wished someone else pressed the button and took the matter in her/his own hands…
With a phenomenal emotionally-charged beginning and beautiful yet obscure scenery, we immediately comprehend we are about to witness something very powerful. I guess there’s no need to look into the plot too much, since that we’re talking about one of the most famous works of one of the most famous writers of all time, William Shakespeare, but let’s just go through the basics, shall we?
After receiving a prophecy from three witches that he will be the King of Scotland, and nudged by his wife and insane ambition, Macbeth murders the King and takes the throne and matters in his own hands. The rest is as they say history. Well, at least in literature and/or theatre.
As already ‘screamed’ by so many film critics and reviewers, Michael Fassbender had the time of his life with this role. What Fassbender did here is rarely seen in modern film history. The way he carried this film entirely, almost every sequence without failing so, is definitely something that will make its way to a special pedestal. However, I am not entirely sure that his performance would be so strong if he didn’t have that very important push: Marion Cotillard as Lady Macbeth. It’s no secret what this woman is capable of, so it wasn’t a surprise to see her brilliant portrayal of such a complex character.
The fluidity of their relationship (Fassbender-Cotillard) is magnificent. Absolutely stunning acting duo that made their together-scenes an ease for the viewers. Even when, during the film, they interchange their roles psychologically, it works so well that their character’s wrath is almost equal. No doubt that the Oscar nomination will go on both addresses. And I do have a hunch the door bell will be loud. At least on one.
But what about the newcomer, Australian director Justin Kurzel (Snowtown, 2011 and The Turning, 2013)? A few problems are vividly seen when it comes to conceptualization of the plot. At times, Kurzel made it quite difficult for people who are not so familiar with this Shakespeare work. Of course, the script is heavy, and rightfully so. But the obscurity of the language sometimes came as an obstacle of surprise. Hence, word of advice (especially to those who don’t remember or have never read the play), catch up with the “history” a little bit.
Yes, slow-motion sequences make a film coloured in a specific way, giving an additional opportunity for emotions to be seen and felt much stronger. However, I am not entirely sure that a 5-min of it won’t kill its purpose. And that is exactly what happened here: in the beginning, Kurzel decides to let the slow-motion fills the screen that much that for a short moment I wished I was Eisenstein cutting the film and making my own montage.
As the film history showed us on so many occasions, the most effective way to blur the holes in your film is to put a good music score as your frontrunner. And if you’re that lucky, you might find one within your family circle. Jed Kurzel made a tip-top score for his brother by carefully combining rustic elements influenced by the Scottish landscape, naturally.
Oh, before I forget, I know I’m going to be online-hanged for this, but some sequences from Macbeth should teach a few lessons to Braveheart appreciators. Yes, I’ve said it. You’ve heard me perfectly well.
The power of the ending is, for obvious reasons, the strongest. Even so, you can tell that Kurzel had a difficulty how to properly approach it and “make a kill”. However, with the light show/proper film filter and terrific acting by both Fassbender and Sean Harris (playing Macduff), the job was less stressful and the point was successfully made.
So what’s the conclusion? Why such strong words in italics at the far beginning of this review? Does it mean Macbeth is directed wrongly, badly or colourless? No. Not at all. Far from it. Does it mean it’s far from the expectations of the writer of these lines? Yes.
Of course that we expected a boom, a strong different approach. And would you be willing to blame us since, at the end of the day, this work has been done by the ‘big three’ already (Orson Welles, Akira Kurosawa and Roman Polanski). It’s rather difficult to explain but I’ll make an attempt through not words of mine, yet a person next to me, who said that “this was an unsuccessful attempt to blur the line between the theatre and film”.
All hail Macbeth that shall be king hereafter. So be it.