MAC­BETH, Shake­speare drama, rated R, Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts, 3 chiles

Pasatiempo - - PASATIEMPO - — Jonathan Richards

The dark, rainy, des­o­late Scot­land of di­rec­tor Justin Kurzel’s Mac­beth hardly seems worth fight­ing for. By the time (and that time comes quickly) it is awash in rivers of blood, the slit throats and slashed bod­ies that pave the way of the se­rial-mur­der­ing Thane of Glamis and Caw­dor to an un­easy crown ring up as a steep and ter­ri­ble price to pay.

This adap­ta­tion of Shake­speare’s play-that-must-not-be-named (the­atri­cal su­per­sti­tion for­bids the ut­ter­ing of the ti­tle in­side a theater) is pow­er­ful, bru­tal, orig­i­nal, and some­times al­most in­com­pre­hen­si­ble. Even tak­ing into ac­count the cut-and-slash re­work­ing of the text by the team of screen­writ­ers ( Ja­cob Koskoff, Michael Les­lie, and Todd Luiso), the writ­ing is mag­nif­i­cent. But the more fa­mil­iar you are with the lan­guage of the play, the bet­ter off you will be, be­cause, as half-whis­pered in hoarse Scot­tish brogues through­out most of the movie, against an in­sis­tent score (by the di­rec­tor’s brother, Jed Kurzel) that is some­times mourn­ful, some­times boom­ing, much of the di­a­logue is lost.

The cast, headed by Michael Fass­ben­der in the ti­tle role, and the haunt­ing, saucer-eyed Mar­ion Cotil­lard as his lethal wife, is su­perb, and the film’s per­for­mances work mas­ter­fully to over­come the au­di­tory chal­lenge with their in­ten­sity. Most of the men in the piece have that thick-bod­ied me­dieval so­lid­ity fa­mil­iar from Ge­orge R.R. Martin’s Game

of Thrones, but Fass­ben­der still man­ages to con­vey a tor­tured vul­ner­a­bil­ity as he slowly loses his moral com­pass and his mind. Kurzel has trans­posed a num­ber of fa­mous speeches to in­trigu­ingly un­fa­mil­iar cir­cum­stances: The dag­ger that the mur­der­ous thane sees be­fore him is held in ghostly hands, and his thoughts on the petty pace of tomorrow and tomorrow are whis­pered into dead, deaf ears.

The cin­e­matog­ra­phy by Adam Arka­paw is ma­jes­tic, and al­most un­remit­tingly dark, which adds to the murk­i­ness of iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of some of the play­ers and the lines they are speak­ing, but it’s stun­ningly im­pres­sive. By the time Bir­nam Wood comes to Dun­si­nane, the hell on earth that Mac­beth’s mis­guided am­bi­tion has wrought has be­come tan­gi­ble and ter­ri­fy­ing.

Kurzel opens on a Mac­beth fam­ily burial, as the griev­ing par­ents stand over the bier of a dead child. Soon the thane is in bat­tle, and his other son is slain. The bat­tle scenes are shot with stu­pe­fy­ingly gory in­ten­sity, al­ter­nat­ing be­tween slow mo­tion, full mo­tion, and stop mo­tion as heads and limbs fly and guts spill into the mud and mist of the Scot­tish heath. And by the time the Weird Sis­ters (the tra­di­tional three ac­com­pa­nied by a weird lit­tle sis­ter) ap­pear on the moor and make their pro­nounce­ments about Mac­beth’s prospects, it does seem as if the poor guy is in the grip of an ir­re­sistible des­tiny, and has very lit­tle say in what’s to come.

Rogue with a brogue: Michael Fass­ben­der

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.