This is the second adapatation of Macbeth I have watched in the past year, and the second time I have left the cinema feeling disappointed at the untapped potential of such classic source material. It’s fair to say, however, that the movie directed by Justin Kurzel had substantially more resources than this one. It’s also fair to say that, despite my problems with it, that one was a much more enjoyable piece of cinema.
Angus Macfadyen has decided to use Macbeth as the template for his directorial debut, bringing the source material in to modern times and using a variety of artistic techniques to bring the text to life. He also gives himself the central role, which is something I can’t really begrudge him. If I was trying to put together a movie adaptation of Macbeth for my first film then I’d be trying my best to give myself the lead too. The supporting cast may be a bit of a mixed bag, but Macfadyen is solid in his performance. Taylor Roberts, as Lady Macbeth, is also very good, and both Kevin McNally and Harry Lennix do well with what is asked of them. And three witches are portrayed by Olivia Maxwell, Hilary Montgomery, Annabelle Bradstreet, and a whole mess of overediting.
It would be all too easy for me to spend this review ripping apart Macbeth Unhinged, which is certainly what I thought about during the opening scenes of the movie. It fails to convey many of the better moments from the play, and there’s a hint of the overly earnest am-dram production throughout most of it. It’s black and white, for the most part. It’s set in a limo, for the most part. And the audio is often a horrible cacophony of discordant music and dialogue that loses any power when not given good enough context.
That covers all of my problems with the film, I think, but there were touches here and there that made me at least admire Macfadyen for trying to do something a bit different. A few flickers of colour, for example, punctuating the stark monochromatic cinematography. The overlapping visuals and dialogue that actually worked to create a sense of growing insanity. And it’s hard not to argue with some of that dialogue, considering where it originates from.
Perhaps some others will appreciate this more than I did, and you should certainly go into it expecting something more arthouse than traditional, but it’s not one I can recommend. It will be interesting to see what Macfayden tries next though, and what he has learned from his debut.
Macbeth Unhinged is screening at 2035 on 16th June in Odeon 4, and at 1815 on 26th June in Filmhouse 3.
WRITER/DIRECTOR: ANGUS MACFADYEN (BASED ON THE PLAY BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE)
STARS: ANGUS MACFADYEN, TAYLOR ROBERTS, KEVIN MCNALLY, HARRY LENNIX, SETH NUMRICH
RUNTIME: 89 MINS APPROX