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The Tragedy Of Macbeth Movie Review: It is A  La Washington Dishy!



The Tragedy Of Macbeth

The Tragedy Of Macbeth (Apple)

Starring: Denzel Washington, Frances McDormand, Bertie Carvel, Alex Hassell, Corey Hawkins, Harry Melling, Kathryn Hunter, and Brendan Gleeson

Directed by Joel Coen

Rating: ** ½

The Tragedy Of Macbeth: The real tragedy  of Macbeth is  that , like Banquo’s ghost, it haunts us  from school to  the end  of our lives. One interpretation  or  the other of the Shakespearean masterpiece—and let’s face it, there’s no one  quite like Shakespeare,not even Chetan Bhagat—will assail our senses.

I  must say this new version of  the universe’s oldest and most revered tale  of nemesis and vendetta, is  an intoxicating brew, and not  always agreeably so. Some of what the  marvellous Joel Coen(who is to  Frances McDormand what Martin Scorcese  is  to Robert de Niro) has conjured here is  plainly exceptional.

And  I do mean plainly: this is a minimalist  Shakespearean production, that  underlines  the tragedy of overweening  ambition  by  sketching a grim austerity on screen. Hence  the film is shot on what look like elaborate stage sets  with Macbeth and  his  lady’s castle resembling an emptied-out museum which has just been robbed  of all its valuables.

And that’s a fair description of the  monstrous moral bankruptcy that  grips  the  saga of  murder  madness and mayhem. The  performances of course are so powerful they  tend to overpower  the core tenability and  power  of  the  plot.

It is  interesting to note that some of  the  supporting actors  are as efficacious as  the central  Washington-McDormand  performances. I was specially  blown  by  Alex Hassel’s Ross, who brings to the table the  moral rectitude  of a statesman who  would rather not  be  a true friend to a true fiend,  and , most unusually Corey Hawkins(how did Coen think of  this Dr Dre player ?)  as Macduff.

Watch Corey when  he is informed of his wife and children’s slaughter:  his face is a moving map of  disbelief  grief and anger. Perhaps this will get me lynched. But  I’d say Corey’s Macduff is  more powerfully aligned  to the Shakespearean  vision than  the central  performances that  do their own  thing  to the  immortal lines.

And the prophecy that  Macbeth would die in the hands of one not born of  a woman, comes true  when  Macduff  reveals he  was  ripped from the womb: caesarian during times of  regicide?

 As for Denzel Washington’s  Macbeth, he seems to  know his Shakespeare  well enough to give the  lines his own  sexy spin.He  modifies the punctuations to  make them dazzlingly Denzelited. Women (even those who don’t know  their Shakespeare, and that covers just about  98.9 percent  of  the population)would find his  cocked eyebrows  and drawling die-alogue  delivery  demonically dishy.

I can see the ladies saying, “Awww,  so what if  he slaughtered  the  King ? How dare  anyone even think of wearing the crown when Denzel is around?”

I found  Frances McDormand’s Lady Macbeth  far more  mouldable  and adaptive in her  ability to  project a scornful  pleasure in  showing her morally  bankrupt husband the way to his  dusty death.McDormand  plays the  power behind the throne as a childless womb-freed  power-woman who  will stop at nothing  to fulfil her  husband’s ambition because she  has  nothing to lose.  Lady Macbeth’s transition into  sleepless insanity is  abrupt and  much too  hurried, as is the  famous  banquet scene where Macbeth loses it completely. These two vital turning  points in  the play are  slapped on the screen with a violent  hand, as   if to remind us that Shakespeare  never meant to give his  protagonists  any room to wriggle  out of their evil designs.

The Tragedy Of Macbeth is  a selfconsciously epic  creation designed to  give Shakespeare’s tragedy  a  cosmic karmic contemporary  ‘cool’  spin . It is  done in a controlled emotional atmosphere, as  though those hands  soaked in  blood were   not for us to see. Colourless  frames  have  their own rationale.

Speaking  of colour  blindness I wonder what Shakespeare would have  thought  of  a Black American  MacBeth  and Macduff?  Let the eye wink at  the hand….

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