starring Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Paddy Considine, David Thewlis
screenplay by Todd Louiso & Jacob Kokoff and Michael Leslie
directed by Justin Kurzel
by Walter Chaw In a season awash in Terrence Malick shrines, Justin Kurzel's Macbeth has the temerity to evoke Andrei Tarkovsky instead. Maybe certain moments from Akira Kurosawa's Kagemusha, married to the saturated minimalism of Tarkovsky's Stalker. It's beautiful, in other words. Stunning enough that its self-consciousness is just another approach to centuries-old material, and a comfortable part of the whole. There are two approaches left to Shakespeare, I think: to acknowledge the centuries of intense scholarship around the canon that has uncovered the archetype (mostly Jungian, sometimes Freudian) mooring the tales, or to ignore them. This Macbeth understands that the Scottish Play is splashed red--all passion and portent and looming storms flashing low on the horizon. Every incident is portent. I mumbled along with the "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow" speech that I memorized for extra credit in eighth grade and marvelled at how Kurzel rolled it into a greater thematic conversation about the lust between these two people, Macbeth (Michael Fassbender) and his Lady (Marion Cotillard). It's as interesting an interpretation as Ethan Hawke's Melancholy Dane pondering choices in the aisles of Blockbuster Video. Muting the dialogue, swallowing it as Fassbender does here (or burying it, as in the various battleground sequences--Banquo (Paddy Considine) calls out his warning choking on blood and dirt), has the effect of placing the words of the story as secondary to its indelible images. It's Macbeth as mythology, seeking to explain how eternity metastasizes in the space between a couple who have lost a child.