For good reason, it’s well-known theater folklore not utter “the Scottish play” or the production will suffer a series of bad luck events that plague the entire run. However, for director Joel Coen, stars Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand, The Tragedy of Macbeth is proving to be the complete opposite.
Usually known for his dark comedic style of filmmaking, Coen spectacularly tells the Shakespearean tale of a Scottish lord (Washington) becomes convinced by a trio of witches he will become the next King of Scotland. His ambitious wife (McDormand), will do anything to support him in his plans of seizing power.
The layers, complexities, intensity and precision with which these award-winning actors inhabit these roles is awesome, inspiring and invigorating for a whole new generation not yet familiar with the classics. Frances McDormand is deliciously cunning as Lady Macbeth and her entrance as Lady Macbeth in the shadows reading a letter from you love sets up the plot perfectly. Similarly and not surprisingly stunning is every scene in which Denzel Washington inhabits. I feel like every performance in every film was meant to witness his true power as Macbeth. Straddling a thin line between dangerously diabolical to a royal with a conscious isn’t unlike the struggle we witness with the real British hierarchy of today.
Coen’s decision to shoot in B&W making flawless use of of shadows and close-ups assists in focusing in on this chilling story of deceit and betrayal is absolutely stunning to watch. Particularly in a scene where Macbeth believes to view someone with a weapon that turns out to just an entryway. It’s a moment that leave a knot in your stomach that is quickly relieved by the reality.
Having this film infiltrated with a multi-cultural cast is not only refreshing, but setting the tone with how these stories are told moving forward. Corey Hawkins (MacDuff), Moses Ingram (Lady MacDuff), Brendan Gleeson (Duncan), Harry Melling (Malcolm), Bertie Carvel (Banquo)
and Alex Hassell as Ross are individually and collectively gripping only enhancing and elevating this story with quintessential brilliant storytelling.
Whether you’ve seen this classic or are a Shakespearean virgin, The Tragedy of Macbeth will enlighten, entertain and enthrall.