Film review: Macbeth (8 out of 10)

Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard in Macbeth
Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard in Macbeth

When any film production company decides to tackle one of Shakespeare’s plays they take their life, and reputation, in their hands.

There seem to be a number of distinct camps - the purists who insist on any production following the original text to the letter; those happy to accept some tinkering; and finally those who wouldn’t bother with a Shakespeare play however it’s dressed up.

Of course the latter group have probably seen a film with modern language based on one of the Bard’s stories (eg She’s The Man, West Side Story, 10 Things I Hate About You).

This new version of the ‘Scottish play’ seems to have split opinion right down the middle.

But I’m very happy to give it a thumbs-up.

For me, the essential elements are all there, the scenes are superbly shot and the acting is incredible.

Michael Fassbender plays Macbeth, the Thane of Glamis; a man full of ambition but one who needs his wife to push and coerce him into action.

However, he has to commit more murderous acts to stay in control and finally succumbs to paranoia and madness.

Fassbender is excellent in the role as we follow him on his pre-destined course to oblivion.

Marion Cotillard was the surprise casting, with doubts whether a Parisian could master the Bard’s words and the rhythm of the verse.

Well she pretty much nails it and her final soliloquy is heart-wrenching.

Sean Harris, though, is masterful as Macduff. The actor adds a touch of class to anything he appears in and this role allows us to see his skills to the maximum.

Add Paddy Considine as the ill-fated Banquo and you have a cast most directors can only dream of.

The rest of the cast doesn’t falter either and David Thewlis doesn’t hold back in the fairly brief role as Duncan.

The incredible Scottish scenery is superbly captured and director Justin Kurzel uses the mist and mud as well as the rolling hills to full effect.

OK there are elements of the original play that have gone missing but this movie acts as a classy glimpse into the amazing world Shakespeare left us.

Film details: Macbeth (15) 113mins

Director: Justin Kurzel

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Sean Harris, Marion Cotillard

Screening courtesy of Horsham Capitol

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