At this stage of my life, I’ve experienced a solid number of versions of this Shakespeare tragedy. I’ve seen it performed in minimalist form, where it’s all about the language. I’ve wandered through an elaborate, six-floor, 100-room immersive version, with almost no dialogue at all. Of course, perhaps my all-time favorite interpretation is in Japanese. And so appears, this latest adaptation of “Macbeth”, starring the great Michael Fassbender, and Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard as his Lady. It could be the darkest, grungiest, most expressionistic version yet. And not done sans verse…but close enough. Mr. Fassbender is superb here…is there anything he can’t do? Ditto Marion Cotillard as his perpetually hand cleansing mate. Director Justin Kurzel cuts this to its bare bones, and provides us with a rewarding and visceral journey.
Honestly, if you are unfamiliar with the text, and/or this is your virgin version of the Bard’s Scottish play, this is probably not the place to begin. There’s less about character motivation, and word poetry, and more focus on earthiness, and violence..and blood. The style is rich, as is the abundance of regret and outright dread. Paddy Considine makes a fine Banquo, and Sean Harris an impressive Macduff. And what a joy to find the excellent David Thewlis, as the doomed King Duncan. The costumes and period flavor are superb, and Adam Arkapaw’s cinematography is outright astonishing. Totally accessible it ain’t. And there are occasions where it frustrates. But a bold and haunting vision it is. And I found myself pondering Fassbender and Kurzel taking on Hamlet for film. Let’s call that a suggestion and a wish.