Having studied Macbeth for GCSE English I have quite a liking for this Shakespeare play. The strength lies in the wonderful story and characters created here. Having a teacher take me through the play too only enhanced my experience and understanding of the tragedy but that’s over 5 years ago now. So whilst I was familiar with Macbeth I certainly couldn’t remember every detail. This for me was the perfect way to go into this new adaptation.
I’m very glad that I had that foundation of knowledge of the play as Shakespeare speak can be hard to follow at times. This isn’t a criticism but just something that potential viewers should be aware of – the film may be a little challenging to follow through the dialogue. Thankfully though, the visuals of the film help a lot, more so than a bare stage at the theatre might. The film whilst looking bleak in appearance, appropriately so, always looked great and especially so in its final moments. Even at times when characters would launch into a soliloquy which honestly I didn’t entirely understand I was still so captivated in the film and this is a result of the fantastic performances. As soon as I’d heard the casting news revealing Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard in the leading roles I knew that this adaptation would be powerful. Both Fassbender and Cotillard are fantastic as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. As I say they manage to convey so much of the play through the way they speak the words or just how they look, both being utterly convincing in their roles.
The rest of the cast are good too, however in very supporting roles as Macbeth does belongs to Fassbender and Cotillard. Paddy Considine is great as Macbeth’s fellow battleground companion Banquo. Sean Harris fresh from terrorising Ethan Hunt in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is good as Macduff. David Thewlis plays King Duncan and as expected from Thewlis does it well. The only casting that made me raise an eyebrow was that of Jack Reynor as Malcolm, now don’t get me wrong I think this guy is a good actor but for me I didn’t think he fitted into the film that well. It maybe had something to do with his involvement in the latest Transformers movie but I just felt he almost stood out. A minor issue though, there wasn’t much else that I thought was wrong with the film. There were a few elements I thought that could have been done slightly better though. For example I thought Lady Macbeth’s character arc could have been enhanced, not through Cotillard’s performance but through the script and actions accompanying that as more could have been drawn out from this actress for this role in my opinion. Also I thought the finale could have been slightly more dramatic and impressive but these issues come only from my expectations and should fade with a re watch.
I thought that the more supernatural elements of the play were done well actually, something I had been curious about before watching the movie. This moments never come across as silly but instead fit in with the fantastic atmosphere of the film which is present right from the beginning. It was this atmosphere combined with the tremendous performances that made Macbeth play out with such ease never becoming tiresome.
If you are a fan of Macbeth you should really enjoy this film. A university student I was with who studies English said afterwards that “you couldn’t really do it much better than that” and I’m sure his opinion is much more valid than mine on this incredibly famous play. Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard are fantastic as to be expected both losing themselves in their roles – they and director Justin Kurzel have wonderfully recreated Macbeth for a modern cinema audience.
Rating – 8.5/10