ALL HAIL SHAKESPEARE! Studied this when I was in Grade 10 so its been more than a decade since I last visited this story of the humble Thane of Glamis. My advice for this film is that you should brush up on the actual plot for this before you go in (as in literally just go wiki the play and refresh your memory).
Why? Let me tell you why.
If you do that, you can focus more on the actual acting, production and direction of this movie. Monologues are a thing that occurs in plays and they happen here as well. Though sometimes it’s hard do differentiate a monologue and a dialogue and it detracts from the actual scene. So if one were able to refresh their memory then they might be able to distinguish it better or maybe, it’s just me. Furthermore, if you forgot the finer details of the story and rely on the actual spoken lines, you might get slightly confused. All the lines here are in Shakespearean English, all of it. Its not simply the difference between you and thou but rather the ‘chunking’ of sentences. There are a lot of lines where it feels likes it a run-on sentence and the speaker just keeps speaking and speaking. If it doesn’t get to you, that’s great but it got to me and it was harder to focus on what was said. The trailer might be edited in a way where it seems like its not but it is, trust me, I just watched this. So yeah, refresh your memory and it will be better, hopefully.
Anyway, now on to the actual film.
Fassbender and Cotillard were stellar here. Their (obvious) monologues had a lot of emotion in it and it was great to watch. The transformation the Macbeths go through is done so well by them. Comparing when you first met them and when they descend into madness, it just great characters. The Macbeths here are authentic, convincing and the progression is a logical one. The vision sequences throughout are depicted with more dialogue rather than visuals and their line deliveries were just great. They overshadow everybody else in the cast unfortunately but that’s largely due to the actual play itself. Macduff gets more lines but it just no on par with Fassbender’s performance. I do wonder if they had cast someone who could really go toe-to-toe with Fassbender, how that would look like.
With the whole movie, one major only gripe I had was the run-on sentences feeling but that was with everybody. And there are times where the initial lines of dialogue feels strange but that is dependent on how verse you are with Shakespearean English. One really has to prepare themselves to hearing that sort of line delivery and vocabulary. I’m the uninitiated as I haven’t heard Shakespearean English in a long time and it took a while to adjust to it.
The production choice is an interesting one. It seems like a low-budget film yet the scenery chosen and the atmosphere never feels that way. Furthermore, the cinematography adds to the scope of things and makes it much more grand and intense through editing and slow-motion. Locations are revisited many times and really does feel like a play. Seeing that this is the director’s third film, I would say a job well done.
All in all, this is an impressive adaptation if one were just recently studying Macbeth. If you forgot about the actual story and the finer details, this may not be an ideal medium in revisiting this play.