Plot: What’s it about?
Showcasing two wonderful actors in the leading roles, Macbeth tells the story of the classic Shakespeare play, but is better than most. This is largely due to the performances from Michael Fasssbender and Marion Cotillard, but also the accessible nature of the story. Fassbender plays the title character, and he’s told by a trio of witches that he will become the King of Scotland. This fuels his ambition, but the task comes with consequences as well. Marion Cotillard plays Lady Macbeth, and part of what drives General Macbeth to dethrone the king is after he loses his child. This causes him to have the vision from the three witches. We then follow the journey of Macbeth at the throne and the toll it takes on him personally.There are many scenes with heavy Shakespearean style dialogue, but it’s never bothersome, because the story isn’t overly complicated. We’re able to follow it easier because of this.
It should be said that the film is visually striking. There’s always something pleasing to the eye. Also, the battle sequences are quite intense and pack a punch. There’s an intensity to them that draws us in. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this as I’m not usually a fan of this sort of film. What isn’t surprising is the wonderful acting here. Fassbender continues to impress as the role is a tricky one, but he nails it. We really feel the tension as Macbeth becomes king, but also intensifies. Cotillard does fine in her role as well. Both, she and Fassbender have a naturalness to their performances that they never feel melodramatic or phony. The film is quite intense, but it’s an involving and visually striking film that leaves an impression.
Video: How’s it look?
This is, without a doubt, one of the more visually-aggressive films that I’ve seen in quite some time. Director Justin Kurzel manages to get across the brutality and darkness of Shakespeare’s play – balancing period realism with the supernatural elements that run through the tale. The grey and misty locations give this adaptation a stark and empty quality and Kurzel and cinematographer Adam Arkapaw manage to present the visuals as the perfect accompaniment to the story’s murky themes. The 2.39:1 AVC HD image is stunning from opening frame to end never compromising anything that could be construed as an error. It’s a beautiful film.
Audio: How’s it sound?
The DTS HD Master Audio mix is, by and large, more than acceptable and a welcome compliment to the amazing picture quality. Fassbender and Cotillard both play their parts with gravelly, hushed tones and much of the Bard’s dialogue is lost in the milieu. I also think it would have been much better if Marion Cotillard had played the role of Lady Macbeth in her native French accent. That would have added additional mystic to the character and given her an exotic, but grounded other worldly quality. Still, “hushed tones” aside, I found the surrounds to be ample, offering a quiet elegance and ambiance to the action taken on by the front stage. This is a very alluring track that will no doubt please.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Making Macbeth – This is a by the book EPK that we’ve all seen before with interviews with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard complimented by some behind the scenes footage.
- Q&A with Michael Fassbender – As the title suggests, this features the actor answering some questions about the film and his career in general, the challenges of playing such an iconic role and working with Cotillard.
The Bottom Line
While it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, Macbeth is arguably one of the more accessible Shakespeare adaptations. It’s well acted, involving and intense. Recommended.