Best known thus far for his atmospheric and harrowing Snowtown, Justin Kurzel’s latest effort is the oft-adapted Macbeth. So far, for me at least, there has only been one adaptation that has largely succeeded in rendering the power of Shakespeare’s tragedy: Polanski’s version, which emphasises and focuses on the idea of unguarded, inevitable and perpetuating evil allowed Lady Macbeth an element of vulnerability. A facet often missing from the usual wholly psychotic harridans that are normally rendered onscreen.
Kurzel’s casting decisions seem, without having seen more than a minute or so of footage, entirely encouraging. Michael Fassbender certainly has both the gravitas and the emotional depth to play the ambitious and conflicted Macbeth; he has more than proven than his ability to carry a film, performing particularly well under the tutelage of Steve McQueen (Shame, 12 Years a Slave). It is however, Marion Cotillard’s casting as Lady Macbeth that impresses me the most. There are few actresses that are able to emote like Cotillard: see her performance in Rust and Bone to witness her extraordinary ability to portray a range of flickering emotions with simply a slight movement in facial expression.
The first clips released from Macbeth appear to live up the early promise of Kurzel’s efforts. The battle scene in particular, cutting from a roaring battlefield to a quiet long shot as we witness the clash of each army is strangely potent and effecting. Cannes’ reviews thus far are encouraging and I shall certainly be looking to watch this adaptation on the big screen.