The Tragedy of Macbeth

The Tragedy of Macbeth ★★★½

Imagine that Shakespeare's 1606 tale of Scottish treason had been a graphic novel, and it was adapted to film by Ingmar Bergman in a German Expressionistic style. That's pretty much what we get in Joel Coen's interpretation of "The Tragedie of Macbeth." The novelty of casting Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand in the lead roles is surpassed only by the staging, with all sets studio-constructed for filming in stark B&W. Bruno Delbonnel's cinematography is stunning. Odd camera angles, high perspectives, and visual distortion using fog, smoke, leaves, etc. outwardly demonstrate the actors' inner turmoil. This is is a visual extravaganza.

The story, however, is still the story, and the lines are still the lines. Brendan Gleeson as King Duncan looks and acts like an upright corpse delivering his. Harry Melling is a deer in the headlights mouthing his. No nobility here. But the witches are a huge treat, and Alex Hassell as the conniver Ross holds his own. McDormand lets out a scream at one point that blew me out of my seat. Otherwise, the performances are given more to the eye than the ear, even with an excellent score by Carter Burwell. Denzel demonstrates with sword and dagger that he can still gives us action scenes, aided by raging violence from Bertie Carvel as the ill-fated Banquo and Corey Hawkins as the aggrieved Macduff.

More art than entertainment, this was more than I expected from Apple Original Films, if less than Hollywood great. Three-point-five stars, very good... almost excellent. See it! And on the big screen if at all possible,

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