The Tragedy of Macbeth Review

The works of Shakespeare have been a running theme in Hollywood for years now. Different writers and directors have taken their turns at this iconic man’s works. Many versions of Romeo and Juliet and other works of his have been brought to the big screen and small alike. Macbeth has been adapted a couple of times in the past.

The latest attempt at bringing Macbeth to the big screen is from Joel Coen, of the duo the Coen Brothers, who directed such hits as No Country For Old MenFargoRaising Arizona, and Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? Similar to Peter Farrelly, Joel steps out to do a solo project apart from his brother.

The story of Macbeth is one of bloody betrayal, witchcraft, and manipulation. Some huge quotes have been used in other movies from Macbeth. It’s a very popular production. Coen takes an interesting direction, though, with this version. He sets it on a soundstage similar to that of a stage, but with more production value and much better cinematography. It is a very brave approach to filmmaking and Shakespeare in general.

Starring as the titular Macbeth is Denzel Washington. He devours the lines like a seasoned pro. Along with him are three-time Academy Award winner Frances McDormand as his wife Lady Macbeth, Kathryn Hunter as the three witches, Corey Hawkins as Macduff, Harry Melling as Malcolm, and Brendon Gleeson as King Duncan, and in a sinister turn Alex Hassell as Ross. Everybody does a solid job with this difficult material. It’s cool to see Coen got such an amazing cast for the film.

The look of the film is what really jumped out at me. The cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel (The French DispatchInside Llewyn Davis) is breathtaking, to say the least. It gives the film an aesthetic and mood like no other film this year. The sound stage aspect was well lit and the black and white was the best way to film this classic tale. The visuals jump off the screen and look gorgeous. The score is very good as well in this film. Carter Burwell (CarolThree Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) does a great job of following along with the dialogue. The score emotes very well throughout the film.

The Tragedy of Macbeth has a style all its own. Coen puts his directorial touches in where they are needed, but the play speaks for itself. His adapting it was an afterthought. Somebody had to do it. The cast he assembled did a very good job as well, especially Washington, Hunter, and Hassell. The cinematography by Delbonnel and the score by Burwell were great admissions to the overall production of the film. It’s very interesting sometimes how when everything comes together, it can turn into something very good and groundbreaking.

4 1/2 stars

Dan Skip Allen

Sean Boelman

Founder/EIC disappointment media

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