THE BLOOD OF THE BARD
Macbeth by William Shakespeare, directed by Geoffrey Wright (Truly Indie) at The Landmark, West Los Angeles. Opens July 27.
They don’t make filmed Shakespeare adaptations like they used to and with all respect to the Bard of Avon and the purists of yesteryear, it’s a blessing. Director Geoffrey Wright, who launched a fairly successful bloke from Down Under named Russell Crowe in his drama Romper Stomper, has creditably, viscerally and cinematographically tapped into the timeless blood-letting of the Scottish play.
More than one critic has incorrectly likened Wright’s gutsy bravura take as being something like Quentin Tarantino doing Shakespeare. There is no dismissing the impact and cleverness of a film like Pulp Fiction, but Wright has done more than reset the play in Melbourne. He has actors as committed and able with Elizabethan speech as they are attractive, hip…and violent. Sam Worthington as the doomed Macbeth is a wonderful, brooding presence onscreen and his Lady, played by Victoria Hill is chilling, first as the inspiration for Macbeth’s path of killing off–here in Wright’s Shakespeare–fellow gang members, and later as the drugged-out, suicidal wastrel.
In fact the entire acting ensemble hits its marks in complete union. Truncation of the text—again, calm down, you purists—along with Will Gibson’s rich lensing and warm hues in production design by David McKay, help make this a virile adaptation that has a higher accomplishment, that of introducing younger film audiences to the Bard and, perhaps, more classic literature. Certainly, Willie the Shakes, as Lord Buckley used to refer to him, would be shaken a bit by the young coven of witches, the Weird Sisters, who are shall we say very much in touch with their sexual side. But it is all of a piece and Wright has pulled it all together, with not only Worthington and Hill’s galvanizing performances but right from the bat, with a terrific soundtrack and an opening song that has almost inaudible screams in its background. This is Shakespeare for a new generation, one that insists on visual stimulation, but one that is open to a new kind of appreciation.