Friday, 11 December 2015

MACBETH - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Grand, blood-spewing adaptation of Shakespeare

This is NOT Ruprecht from
Bedtime Story/Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
It IS the THANE of CAWDOR!!!


Macbeth (2015)
Dir. Justin Kurzel
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Paddy Considine,
David Thewlis, Sean Harris, Jack Reynor, Elizabeth Debicki,
Seylan Baxter, Lynn Kennedy, Kayla Fallon, Amber Rissmann

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Lots of war paint, but no mooning the enemy.

With "Macbeth", William Shakespeare delivered one rip-snorting bloodbath with his immortal tale of the ambitious Thane of Cawdor and his ascendancy to the throne of Scotland by butchering everyone/everything in his path. The play has more than ably been adapted into any number of kick-ass pictures - most notably, The Tragedy of Macbeth, Roman Polanski's astonishing and still unbeatable adaptation from 1971 (you can read my review/memoir HERE).

Justin Kurzel, who gave us the chilling Aussie 2011 true-crime shocker Snowtown (aka The Snowtown Murders), does not disappoint with his adaptation of Macbeth. Though it may lack Polanski's sophistication, genuine rage and grimy, gritty visuals, Kurzel handles the material admirably and it's surely an entertaining roller coaster ride through 15th century royal carnage and intrigue.

Kurzel and his three screenwriters Jacob Koskoff, Todd Louiso, and Michael Lesslie take a few liberties with the original text, but they're all quite engaging and surely won't bother eggheads too much. It's still the familiar tale of how the great warrior Macbeth (Michael Fassbender) valiantly overthrows the hordes and traitors attempting to take out King Duncan of Scotland (David Thewlis).

"Yes darling, I'm quite mad. Damn, killing is fun, though."

Filled with prophecies of kinghood from a gaggle of witches he meets after the battle (Seylan Baxter, Lynn Kennedy, Kayla Fallon, Amber Rissmann) and with his hottie wife Lady Macbeth (Marion Cotillard) egging him on, Macbeth slaughters Duncan, casts suspicion upon Duncan's son Malcolm (Jack Reynor) and eventually aims murderous eyes upon his pals Banquo (Paddy Considine) and MacDuff (Sean Harris) and, in fact their entire families. Macbeth goes increasingly bunyip with Fassbender raging about like Mad Ruprecht from Bedtime Story and its remake Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

Blood gushes, spurts and flows with considerable abandon. Macbeth spares nobody. Alas, he ends up fucking over the wrong guy when he slaughters the wife and kids of MacDuff. Payback's on its way and then some. We, the audience, are the happy recipients of more carnage including the burning of Birnham Wood and one kick-ass mano a mano twixt MacBeth and MacDuff.

The entire cast scores big-time here, the picture looks gorgeous and Kurzel's direction is robust and intelligent. Most delightfully, the picture plays itself out like a thrilling big-studio action extravaganza, only with, uh poetry, eh. All that's missing here is a scene where MacBeth and his boys lift their kilts and moon the enemy. I doubt the Bard would have been spinning in his grave if they'd ripped off Braveheart a wee bit more than they do.


Macbeth is released in North America by The Weinstein Company and can be seen at TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto. Alas, its theatrical engagements won't last too long as the picture will be going to Amazon Instant Video too quickly. A pity, really. It's a genuine big-screen extravaganza.