Macbeth (Justin Kurzel, 2015)
Everyone sucks. Everyone dies. And you don’t know what the hell they’re talking about for most of it. That usually wouldn’t be a winning combination, but SHAKESPEARE!
It helps that this Macbeth is made by an exciting local director. This is director Justin Kurzel’s second feature film following the highly acclaimed Snowtown in 2011, a film which I am yet to pass judgment on because I’m too scared to see it. Given his brief track record and the source material, it comes as no surprise that in this latest take on Macbeth we get another film that is as dark as hell.
The opening credits are coloured red, which is usually a film’s way of saying LOOK THE HELL OUT, THINGS ARE GONNA GET CRAY. And you can’t get much crazier than Macbeth – some witches tell him a prophecy, he sees a dagger magically appear before him, he kills people, he hallucinates some more, he gets cocky and then a wood comes to him and he gets killed in the face by a guy born by Caesarean. If this wasn’t Shakespeare, it would be some weird arthouse film that nobody saw because it’s ridiculous.
But you have to hand it to old William, because as crazy a story as it is, its themes still remain relevant to this day. Man becomes consumed by power, is ruthless in his treatment of all those around him, has a mental breakdown, and it all ends in tears (or in this case, blood). While this Macbeth maintains its historical setting along with the original Shakespearean language, it also feels very contemporary, and I am jealous of the high school students that will get to watch this version instead of whatever weird old crap we got. (Although I was disappointed we didn’t get to see Macbeth’s head on a stick this time around.)
I’ve never wanted Michael Fassbender to die so much. The final battle between him and Duff-star took its sweet time and on the inside I was screaming “FINISH HIM!” It’s not often you eagerly await the title character’s demise, but Macbeth is one example of an anti-hero done well. It’s a testament to The Fass that he can be such an admired actor when he often plays such wankers, especially when he is reportedly one in reality too.
The Fass is good here but he’s outshone by the superb Marion Cotillard, who is perfectly cast because she is indeed a QUEEN. She is captivating in every moment as the manipulative, cold, and ultimately broken Lady Macbeth. Things even get a little sexy between her and Old Macca – no doubt the sexual tension will be the highlight for school audiences and their raging hormones. Cotillard supposedly maintains her French accent, though I personally thought she had hidden it quite well. That might be because she speaks so much with her eyes. She has the power to hypnotise. To be fair, Macbeth never really stood a chance because if Marion Cotillard tells you to do something, YOU DANG WELL DO IT.
There’s often the potential for Scottish set films to be dull and dreary in appearance, but this Macbeth is a stunning visual feat, with some incredible shots by Adam Arkapaw and exciting editing by Chris Dickens. Jed Kurzel (brother to Justin) has created a haunting score, and I must concede that Shakespeare’s words are rather exquisite, even though much of the language goes over my head. If it weren’t such a well-known story, this film might have even been slightly unbearable. It is intense and extremely depressing. All the same, it is a mesmerising piece of cinema, and should be compulsory viewing for any budding CEOs.