4.5 stars
Small wonder that Justin Kurzel 's Macbeth was in competition at this years Cannes Film Festival. It is, in all regards, a tour de force.
Guaranteed to find favour with any Game Of Thrones fan looking to fill inter-season emptiness; this muddy and bloody account of a treacherous, treasonous, tyrannical King is an absolute heart-starter. Heart-stopping too, but for different reasons.

As befits one of Shakespeare's most celebrated plays, Kurzel has pulled together an exceptional cast, and an equally talented crew, to craft this quite exceptional film. Michael Fassbender (Slow West) is the Scottish lord who takes control of his country in a vicious coup after witches convince him of his destiny. It's not long before paranoia overwhelms the newly minted King and a pile of bodies mounts outside his castle; removing those who might challenge his legitimacy, those who might challenge his rule and those who might know the truth. As power corrupts powerfully, 'blood will have blood'. It's chilling stuff.

Rather than focus on the popularised madness of the Macbeths, Kurzel attributes their downfall to the twinned miseries of paranoia and corruption. It makes for more tangible, and much heavy viewing as Fassbender and his kin go on to slay all comers in horrendous 300-style slo-mo, while Lady Macbeth (Marion Cottillard - Two Days One Night) does her best to rid them all of those damn spots. And for as long as they last, Paddy Considine (Pride), David Thewlis (The Lady), Jack Reynor (A Royal Night Out) and Sean Harris (’71) do what they can to restore calm to the troubled kingdom.

Kurzel knows a thing or two about gruesome, having written and directed 2011's shocking, serial-killer flick Snowtown. Well served by an eye for the heavily stylised, Macbeth keeps time with a dour emotional beat, and a near operatic vision. As much as the eye turns from ghastly, visceral violence, it is seduced by moments of sublime, sensual beauty. There's a delicious ebb and flow that is simpatico with the power and passion of Shakespeare's work (despite tight, Scottish mouths that swallow as much of the script as they release). For this is more than blood and carnage. It's a stunning treatise on prophecy, destiny and the madness found in-between. Matched to the blistering force of Kurzel's direction, Macbeth is a bewildering experience. It’s bloody brilliant.


Previewed at Paramount Theatre, Sydney, on 11 September 2015

Michael Fassbender
Marion Cotillard
Paddy Considine
David Thewlis

Justin Kurzel

Jacob Koskoff
Michael Lesslie

UK / France / USA


113 minutes

October 1, 2015
Macbeth (2015) on IMDb
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