First of all I do have to say that I am a fan of Shakespeare, not so much that I would mouth along the words with the play or film (which I have seen people do) but enough so I can understand the dialogue without any trouble, which I think gives me a fairly good perspective on this latest attempt to bring an old story to a modern audience. As most people should by now know the story of Macbeth I’ll make this brief; Macbeth (Michael Fassbender) is presented with the idea that he could be king, and the only problem with that is there is a much alive and kicking king already on the throne. With a little encouragement he realises that maybe this is a problem that can be easily solved with some dark deeds, starting a deadly journey of epic proportions.
Michael Fassbender’s performance in this film is phenomenal, there’s no doubting that, it is purely a gigantic power house of character and he does it justice. With so much dialogue and in such an old dialect it makes it even more impressive, and of course Fassbender is not actually Scottish so having to do all that while doing a pass-able accent other than your own is some serious work. On the other hand Marion Cotillard as Lady Macbeth I believe was a great choice, she is a fantastic actress, the problem is this interpretation of the play has completely beaten and reduced what should be a predominant and vital character to the story. The character has limited interaction and when thought about not a lot of involvement in what’s going on, which if following the source she should be very much the opposite. It’s highly possible that given the real role she deserved this would have been one of the best things she’d ever done but sadly she’s brushed aside.
There is a fair few other actors I could talk about but they all do decent jobs and I have no real complaints: Elizabeth Debicki (Man From U.N.C.L.E), David Thewlis, Jack Reynor (What Richard Did, A Royal Night Out), Paddy Considine, Ross Anderson (Unbroken). The only one I have a problem with is Sean Harris, each performance he gives as of late just makes me like him less as an actor. Overall it’s casted well.
What let’s the film down is the changing of elements from the play, obviously the film will not follow the play word for word but any fans of the play will notice a fair few alterations which let the film down slightly. There’s no denying that Shakespeare’s work has lasted the years, over 400 of them in fact and it is happily confusing school children the world over, Macbeth being one of the darker plays that’s covered. Quite honestly I do agree with using Shakespeare to teach English and it’s an incredible thing to watch on the stage but I believe there’s no real place for it on the big screen anymore, the actual events can easily translate to today but the overall tone and language too easily alienates modern audiences. These are great performances and for a Shakespeare adaptation this is as good as it gets, no question but this is the first film I’ve watched where not 1, not 2 but 6 people in total walked out, the walk-out is not something I have seen a great deal of in my whole cinema going life, so to see that number of people give up on it and just leave speaks volumes to me.
The film is epic and beautifully shot in just brilliant landscapes and if you are a fan of Shakespeare then this is for you, but if you’re not a fan of the bard or of long speeches basically spoken in riddles, it’s probably best you give it a miss.