loureviews’s review published on Letterboxd:
Back from a cinema screening of this at BFI Southbank with a live Q&A with McKellen and Loncraine.
This film is quick and modern Shakespeare with a multifaceted study of pure evil from Ian McKellen in the lead.
His malevolence as he takes the viewer into his confidence, his duplicity as he blithely waves his brother Clarence (a superb Nigel Hawthorne) off to the Tower while plotting his death, the ice cold ambition which makes him reach out to Anne over her husband's corpse and just as coldly dispatch her, his manipulation of friends, foes and family (sister in law Queen Elizabeth, whose young daughter he covets even after he has arranged the murder of her two young brothers), his disregard for anyone but himself.
All this is beautifully and expertly conveyed in a film which cuts 75% of Shakespeare's text, but which is purely cinematic and almost blackly comic, ending as it does with Al Jolson singing 'I'm Sitting on Top of the World'.
This film has grown in stature over the years and is well worth watching for Bard buffs and those unsure alike.