Film review: “The Tragedy of Macbeth”
The Macbeth’s Tragedy is the cinema of cinema glory, and at 66, Coen continues to be one of the creative leaders in his field.
Im more than 30 years refracting other films through his sensibility tinged with irony, Joel Coen has never done anything so serious, austere and somber as Macbeth’s tragedy, which stars his wife Frances McDormand as Lady Macbeth and Denzel Washington as the ambitious Thane of Cawdor.
Technically dazzling if emotionally uninviting, Shakespeare’s adaptation will briefly play in theaters starting Christmas Day ahead of a January 14 release on Apple TV +. Television is not the place to see this beautiful but demanding film, and many viewers will lose interest or doze off. The main character can kill sleep, but Coen’s movie makes it easier.
The project (carried out without the participation of Coen’s brother Ethan, who said he loses interest in cinema), is a kind of family outing; McDormand told a press conference to present the film’s world premiere at the New York Film Festival that she has wanted to play Lady Macbeth ever since she fell in love with the sleepwalking scene at age 14. For 15 years, she said: she harassed her husband Joel Coen to direct her in a theatrical production, but he replied that he would have no idea how to run the theater. She played the role on stage at Berkeley five years ago but, alas, it’s not a good match for the role. Her performance is the norm – cold, cruel, calculating – but as a performer, her knack is to be brave, or perhaps fiery. It has neither the gravity nor the sense to be in touch with bottomless evil.
Worse news: Washington is terribly misinterpreted. He first played Othello in Juilliard at the age of 20, and he’s perhaps more dedicated to the stage than any American movie star of his stature. But he loves Shakespeare more than Shakespeare loves him. Either reluctant or unable to create different voices for different parts, he sticks to his American accent (as McDormand does). With his very contemporary manner of speaking, he looks more like an interrogating police detective in a big city than a medieval Scottish soldier. He seems to have no particular conceptual strategy for approaching the role, moving from scene to scene without any connecting theme, and at times he rushes his words. You will never forget for a moment that you are looking at Denzel Washington rather than the Shakespearean hero. Plus, at 66, he’s way too old for the role, and he looks distinctly meaty for a soldier. What 66-year-old man is cutting limbs on the pitch, let alone making his way to the top? What woman waits until she turns 64, like McDormand, to become ruthless? When Macbeth kills King Duncan, the act is supposed to smell horribly like parricide, but the Old King is played by Brendan Gleeson, who is a few months younger than Washington. To recap how it all turned out: Lady McDormand just had to play the part, which meant she had to find a Macbeth in her age range, and Washington is a movie star big enough to attract. funding, therefore. . . welcome to a hollywood casting craze.
But don’t be distracted by the Oscar winners: the real stars of the film are Coen, cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel and production designer Stefan Dechant. The look that these three have created is beautifully dark and lavishly barren, a banquet of vapor. Delbonnel’s exquisite and often beautifully symmetrical black-and-white images (shot on the Warner Brothers field in Burbank) revel in the grim austerity of German expressionism in the silent movie era (Coen quotes Carl Theodor Dreyer and FW Murnau as influences) and the awe-inspiring rigors of Ingmar Bergman.
Yet no Bergman movie offers as many playoff visuals as this one. Macbeth’s betrayals are part and parcel of a desolate void – endless white beaches, lonely campsites and empty castles whose bare walls and roofs are open to the sky and bitter winds. A climactic fight takes place on what looks like a brutalist cement corridor suspended over an abyss; the characters disappear in a stifling fog or find themselves at the table in front of empty cups.
Terrorized by herds of crows, splashed with his king’s blood, threatened by the leaves of Birnam Wood as he walks towards Dunsinane, Macbeth is more clearly defined by what is going on around him than by Washington’s action. . Carter Burwell’s catastrophic score and sound engineering add a lot to the foreboding, especially when Duncan’s blood dripping on the floor mixes with both the heavy sound of a boot hitting hard ground and with effect. of percussion that sounds like God’s own hammer that brings down judgment. Coen’s directing of The Weird Sisters – played with otherworldly intensity by Kathryn Hunter – is magnificent. The cauldron scene, played out with the witches perched like birds on beams high above Macbeth’s head, is perhaps the highlight of the film, turning the ground beneath the usurper’s feet into a flood of water. ‘horror.
It’s a total commitment, and we should be thankful that Oscar’s lust continues to push tech companies like Apple to support such commercially risky ventures. To say the least, this isn’t the usual Hollywood production, and Coen (who produced it with McDormand) doesn’t try to extract meaningless socio-political comments, either. It’s just a movie glory flick, and at 66, Coen continues to be one of the creative leaders in his field.