The Tragedy Of Macbeth review: Joel Coen does Shakespeare

Denzel Washington in The Tragedy of Macbeth

Denzel Washington in The tragedy of Macbeth
Photo: A 24

Over the course of 18 feature films, brothers Joel and Ethan Coen have jointly held their place among America’s most visually and verbally distinguished working filmmakers. Their credits haven’t always been identical — in films prior to 2004, Joel was named as director and Ethan as producer, with both names usually in the script and neither of them officially claiming credit for their frequent (and Academy Award-nominated!) editing under the pseudonym Roderick Gaines. But they have been described as two men who more or less function as one synchronized artistic mind. So what happens when you give up half of that partnership? their masterpiece Inside Llewyn Davis I felt he was considering this very question in his text. Now Joel Quinn The tragedy of Macbeth He gives a startling, bizarre, and probably tentative answer: Replace Ethan Coen with William Shakespeare.

Joel Coen sticks close to Bard’s text, trimming them and transforming some a bit without making major adjustments. It wouldn’t be fair to label a genius playwright all along as just a handicap, a formal challenge for a director to overcome. However, given the love he has shown time and time again for creative verbiage, his refinement of Shakespeare ties, in a sense, one arm behind Quinn’s back, and in many ways Macbeth It’s like a palate cleaning experience.

This experience may involve, consciously or unintentionally, swapping Quinn’s brother for his wife, three-time Academy Award winner Frances McDormand. She produced the film with Quinn playing Lady Macbeth, while Denzel Washington famously plays Lady Macbeth’s husband. This is truly the biggest change in the adaptation, albeit far from unprecedented and requiring no formal rewriting: here, Lord and Lady Macbeth are an older couple whose chances of glory are rapidly fading. The power grab they cooked up, set in motion the tragedy of the movie, plays as urgent, because of their age, and oddly realistic, as both Washington and McDormand are experts at making good looks — even when talking through the details of the traitorous murder of King Duncan (Brendan Gleeson). ). McDormand’s reading of “Hand Your Courage in a Sticking Place” seems disingenuous because it’s not particularly evasive or even aggressive. It’s a firm proposition, with hints of dangerous and intractable manipulations beneath the surface.

Just seeing McDormand and Washington drag these famous parts makes it so Macbeth Worth preserving for future generations, hand in hand fences In the theater giants division of Denzel Washington. But Coen’s equivalent is a solo album that has its own unique style. With text modifications mostly off the table, he adapts the play visually, and by subtraction: Coen removes color, returning to black and white for the first time since The man who was not there, and arranges his actors on stark, sometimes almost abstract vocal ensembles. Even the three witches whose prophecy opens the story are played by one of the actors, with Catherine Hunter doing a masterfully frightening feat in three versions of an optical illusion.

The digital brilliance of Bruno Delbonnel’s cinematography gives the black-and-white images an eerie clarity, bringing out details such as the white hairs that dot the heads and beards of many characters (especially Washington). The resulting appearance is groggy and expressive. A simple scene inside a tent decorated with trees casting a shadow from the outside, before smoothly disintegrating from the canvas to the castle walls. The famous “Double and Double Toil and Trouble” scene is staged with the witches perched on the rafters above Macbeth, the floor at his feet filled with a misty liquid, turning the room into their own cauldron.

While these scenes are visually exciting, there are moments when Queens’ old charm is conspicuously overlooked – it was called a “told by a idiot” agent who previously turned some of her voices and anger into black comedy or even farce. The lack of fun may be an unfair blow to any movie with “tragedy” in the title, but Stephen Root needs a minute or so of screen time in a small part like Porter to remember the charm of Coen’s character and actress that most The tragedy of Macbeth Very classy to indulge in. Quinn’s previous films have been accused of operating at a cold distance, a charge that may eventually remain here after years of over-aggressive use.

Then again, it may be necessary to maintain slight and rectal separation The tragedy of Macbeth From Transformation to Parody of Shakespeare by Quinn; The links to Joel’s previous work are clear enough without stealing the cast for emphasis. Lord and Lady Macbeth conspire to murder a group of people, all – as Marge Gunderson might say – for a little power. The inevitability of death also fits in with some of Koons’ somber work. Joel does not seem constitutionally able to elicit a sense of wonder at Macbeth’s fall in late middle age. Cinema has always been imbued with bloody, force-grabbing spirals of all ages, which also makes it hard to discern where Joel might go next, if he continues making films without Ethan. For now, he’s starting to leave the words as they are as the music changes, recasting an old standard into a lucid dream.

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