Geoffrey Wright, (director of Romper Stomper and Cherry Falls) must have had a great time bringing his newest effort to the screen. Macbeth is a sexy and stylish, contemporary retelling of one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays. While I felt it somewhat confined to it’s inspiration’s dialogue and even storyline, it was a visually stunning piece of gangster-play. The characters and landscape of the contemporary crime world are explored in the project, while remaining true to Shakespeare’s original text.
Set in modern day Melbourne, Australia, the story begins when Macbeth (Sam Worthington, who is cast as the lead in the new James Cameron film, Avatar), is rewarded with gifts from his crime boss Duncan (Gary Sweet) for serving him faithfully and performing bravely in a vicious gangland rip-off. But these gifts are nothing compared to what Duncan lavishes on his son Malcolm (Matt Doran), making Macbeth wonder why he bothers to stick his neck out when Malcolm does nothing at all.
Macbeth, steered by his Lady Macbeth (Victoria Hill), hatches a plan to kill Duncan, and become ruler of the crime gang. However Macbeth’s insanity grows after the brutal murder, compelling him to dispose of other members of his entourage. His condition manifests itself in an ingeniusly shot banquet sequence, with a haunting image that employs innovation on a small budget.
However, the deep-hued cinematic style does not overcome the films ultimate shortcomings. I do feel the movie is well worth a look, especially for lovers of the kinetic and bloody crime films, but don’t go for the Shakespearean aspect, because it ultimately fails. Along with a powerful, enduring storyline, you can add betrayal, fate, power, lust, and hubris added to the mix, making for a very noble effort by Wright.