By Christian DiMartino
I remember hearing about Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth when I was reading the classic William Shakespeare play just last year. I’ve read a few of his plays, and honestly, I never react to them the way I should, mostly because I don’t like being forced into reading something. But yet I had no problem reading Macbeth, as I found it to be quite fascinating, and I have a thing for stories about crazy people.
So I was pumped for Macbeth the movie, especially when I heard who they got on board. Michael Fassbender has more than proved himself in terms of brilliance, and he is a perfect casting choice in the title role. The real kicker for me though was Marion Cotillard as Lady Macbeth. I just knew she had to hit a home run, and she does.
Macbeth lived up to my expectations. It’s a gorgeous, gritty, perfectly acted, and fresh take on the classic story. It is a near triumph, and probably would be a full triumph if I wasn’t so nit-picky. Luckily though, Kurzel handles this material with great care. I figure pulling off a Shakespeare adaptation couldn’t be easy business, but they handle it with ease.
The story is one you might know, if you took an English class, but I’ll help refresh. Macbeth (Fassbender) is a Scottish warrior, faithful to King Duncan (David Thewlis). One day, Macbeth hears a prophecy from three witches, stating that he will someday be king. He comes to his wife, Lady Macbeth (Cotillard) with this news, and this is when things really kick in. She convinces/emasculates him into stabbing the king in his sleep, this way he can just take over already. From this point on, we soon begin to see Macbeth dive into madness, as the more and more powerful he becomes, the more sinister also.
Kurzel adds in a few minor details that don’t quite add anything. However, when you look past those, Macbeth is still, I’d say, one of 2015’s most accomplished films. I was initially going to wait to reveal my Best of 2015 list until I had seen this, but I grew impatient. I now wish I would’ve waited.
In another year, this would be a big Oscar player. Just look at the cinematography alone, especially in the final battle between Macbeth and Macduff (Sean Harris, who still looks like a Whoville pedophile). The score is also a haunting one, and as are the performances. Kurzel also doesn’t hold back when it comes to the grit of the original tale. It’s violent alright, just the way it should be.
It’s a film that doesn’t even feel low-budgeted, even though it probably is. That’s something that can’t be ignored. The same goes for the film itself. This may be a tale we know well, and one that we didn’t need re-told once again. But luckily Macbeth is a classy piece of work, and one that I can consider a hidden gem.