One of the weirder movies of the year, the most recent adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth is set in modern day Australia. Helmed by Aussie Geoffrey Wright and starring an Australian cast, the movie is like Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet, only without the directing or acting talent. Still, for the presumably smaller budget, the movie is entertaining enough to warrant interest among those who like twists on Shakespeare tales.
Not having an acute knowledge of Shakespeare's plays or being a master of understanding his lines of dialogue (this film is spoken in the original Shakespearean), part way through the movie, having not always paid attention or understood everything up until that point, I had to look up the plot online, but once I knew the basic framework of the story, things clicked and I started to enjoy myself. Given that the film is set in modern day, the notion of kings and generals that is so essential to this story is a bit lost, and Wright doesn't do the best job of establishing who is what at the outset. In other words, you have to know something about the play to figure out that Duncan is indeed a king and Macbeth a general (well, I figured it out when he is murdered).
This version of Macbeth is quite twisted, as it has a more sexual spin to it than you'd might expect. While there are witches in the original play, the witches here, who look like The Craft meets Underworld, are pure sexual beings, and don't mind having foursomes with our title character. The film is strange, as it probably takes the supernatural elements of Shakespeare's play to the extreme; the witch sequences are particularly bizarre.
Director Wright has created a very energetic little movie, but his approach is a little too frenetic at times. The editing is extremely fast at times, and Wright appears to have tried to be edgy for the sake of being edgy. Had he calmed down a little bit, the movie would have come off as a bit more sincere and less MTV-ish.
Aside from the occasionally crazy directing, Macbeth is a decent film that will appeal to those who liked Romeo + Juliet. Still, the movie lacks the quality, sincerity and emotional draw of Luhrmann's adaptation. I wouldn't compare the two except it is so clear that Wright wanted to follow in Luhrmann's footsteps.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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