THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH : MOVIE REVIEW
1 STAR OUT OF 5 ( POOR )
DIRECTOR : JOEL COEN
CAST : DENZEL WASHINGTON, FRANCES MCDORMAND
Stuffed bone to hem and thoroughly strangled by Shakespearean gobbledygook, The Tragedy of Macbeth is truly a crying tragedy because of the horrible film it faithfully is from start to finish - easily the otherwise haloed Joel Coen's worst film. Ethan Coen would be turning over in his filmic retirement grave, as this story of regicide unwittingly mirrors the real life fiasco of Joel and Frances trying go the whole hog with Ethan out of the picture.
The iconic story of a general and his wife who, egg-headedly egged on by the prophecy of witches, kill the king and usurp his throne, and then get eaten alive by guilt-fuelled madness, just does not have its soulful echo in this soulless film which makes little effort to show the gravitas of murder and gnawing guilt that haunt the heart of the original drama.
From the get-go, this black and white film with a truncated aspect ratio, reveals its fatal flaw - an over-reliance on overblown ancient dialogue whose mummified formality lacks emotional bite. Whether four hundred years old or not, these ridiculously antique and flatulently baroque lines by Joel Coen are certainly timeless in their pompous stupidity. The characters somehow roll it out smoothly while dying within. This kind of size 12 dialogue may be better read at leisure off the page, or through the deliberate volume of the stage, but is almost incoherent when spoken briskly in a modern film.The stark emotional power the Coens spartanly and wondrously harvested in "Fargo" and "No Country for Old Men" are nowhere in evidence in this pedantic wreck. How can it be, when the writer-director and the producer The Great Apple have decided that emotional fluency, intricacy and depth will be sacrificed at the altar of some monochrome asylum ?
Does the movie have anything at all of the Coens' filmic potency ? Yes - its hypnotic power to lull you asleep with its relentless pointlessness. The great Denzel Washington's weaknesses are stripped bare - he spends three-quarters of the film sleep-walking through said dandy lines, and the other bit looking an old balding man with a salt and pepper stubble. Frances McDormand does a slightly better job while still scoring zero on sentimental impact - if her Police Chief Marge from 'Fargo' came upon this lot, she would scrunch up her face, then say 'Hands Up' and arrest all of them for putting good sense through the woodchipper. Film ain't a patch on the memorable Macbeths from Kurosawa's tremendous 'Throne of Blood' to the mofussil marvel 'Maqbool'. If Ethan isn't interested in making pictures any more, then buddy Joel, you better up your game if you're gonna get anywhere close to the duo.
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