CINEMA: The Tragedy of Macbeth (M)
Joel Coen dazzlingly adapts this Scottish play for the screen with Frances McDormand and Denzel Washington mesmeric as the couple whose political ambitions proved their fatal downfall.
Shakespeare’s iconic and much-adapted text, written on these shores over 400 years ago, gets a wonderfully fresh and singular reworking in Joel Coen’s first solo outing as a director. Conjuring a beguiling nether-world between theatre and cinema, this is a stunning production. Cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel’s silvery monochrome images are embellished by the moody, near-expressionistic sets by designer Stefan Dechant. Long-term Coen collaborator Carter Burwell surpasses his usual heady brilliance with a score that balances dramatic heft with pure emotion and builds to a spellcasting crescendo.
And driving the action is an extraordinary cast featuring some of the most breathtaking performances of the year, from Corey Hawkins as Macduff and Alex Hassell as Ross to Harry Melling, Brendan Gleeson… an embarrassment of riches that’s capped by British theatre legend Kathryn Hunter’s contortionist take on the Witches. And leading them all are Washington’s haunted Macbeth and McDormand’s scheming Lady Macbeth – ‘that I may pour my spirits in thine ear and chastise with the valour of my tongue’. Electrifying! Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth is the perfect celebration of an art form that is built on ancient traditions of storytelling and performance but also possesses such magical powers to capture the intimate alongside awe-inspiring scale and spectacle.