Image Courtesy of Apple Original Films & A24

Film Review: The Tragedy of Macbeth

12:00 January 24, 2022
By: Fritz Esker

Director Joel Coen has a wildly varied filmography (Miller's Crossing, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men) and he's made another dramatic gear shift with The Tragedy of Macbeth.

Based on Shakespeare's classic play, The Tragedy of Macbeth tells the story of Scottish lord Macbeth (Denzel Washington), whose ambition leads him to murder the king (Brendan Gleeson). Macbeth's wife (Frances McDormand) enthusiastically encourages the murder plot.

If you've ever read the play or seen it performed on stage, chances are you know going in if you will find this worthwhile. My biggest criticism is one I would also level at the play. Macbeth is one of Shakespeare's least sympathetic tragic leads. He is a greedy murderer, and it's hard to care much about what happens to him or his wife at the end of the play.

However, much of the dialogue remains strong (the "tomorrow, tomorrow, and tomorrow" speech is still chilling). Washington and McDormand, as expected, do fine work in the lead roles. And Coen's use of black and white photography, combined with a sparse staging, gives the film a visually striking look. The characters may leave you cold, but the images will stick in your mind for a while.

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