With A24 sinking their teeth into mythology and historical fiction, I should’ve seen them doing Shakespeare a long time ago. The problem is outside of Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, Hamlet and Othello, I’m not that familiar with his other works. Go figure, “The Tragedy of Macbeth” brought me back to the ONE story of his I completely overlooked.
Good thing I’m paying attention now. And rightfully so.
Shot in the same noir-like, gothic black, white and silver as The Lighthouse, taut imagery continues to bleed onto the haunting yet immersive sound stages; said limited production design somehow echoing the stark, unrelenting world of an austere plane of existence untethered from reality with tightly framed lighting, exquisite cinematography right out of a modern Fritz Lang film and the almost square 1.19:1 aspect ratio that commands your attention. Despite not having his brother Edgar alongside him, Joel Coen keeps more than enough respective world weariness from his collaborations to deliver a direction on par with the fantastic sound design, eerie, haunting empty music, exquisitely simple costumes and the incompleteness of everything surrounding the characters and sparse sets flesh out both the depth of Shakespeare’s writing and the dearth of imagination foreboding the characters fates to come for the rest of the story.
A24 takes brilliant advantage of the lack thereof and masters the wielding slow burn again with trippy imagery, harrowing yet uneven editing and the mother of all narrative structures backing up a condensed yet morally intricate tale to capture the full essence of pathos, ethos and logos.
To be fair, understanding this story means sticking through the Shakespearean dialogue and it can be a tough pull to swallow for anybody watching. But honestly, props for everyone for taking direct inspiration from the source material and be honest, anybody who doubted this movie wasn’t gonna have stellar performances must’ve gone mad. Denzel is stellar as usual but this might possibly be his best performance yet to me.
Short, thrilling and charged with the supernatural, this dark tragedy about the consequences of a Scottish lord’s terrible lust for power is probably one of Shakespeare’s most ‘modern’ and accessible plays…..and A24 could not have been a more ideal fit for a match made in Heaven….and hell.