‘The Tragedy of Macbeth’ Review – The Legendary Talent of Denzel Elevates Macbeth to New Heights


Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand star in Joel Coen’s bold and fierce adaptation; a tale of murder, madness, ambition and wrathful cunning.

Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it. And trust me, everything isn’t for everyone. It may sound cool to be a hero, but can you face actual danger? You may want a promotion, but are you prepared for the extra responsibility? What if you learn the meaning of life and you find out it’s meaningless? Can you handle it? If the answer is yes to all, then you’re in good shape. However, what makes life complex, beautiful, difficult, and worth living is facing the challenges and beating them. We rarely know what the world has in store for us. We can only hope that we are somewhat prepared for what it’s going to throw our way, or at least be lucky enough to survive. We want to think that we have control of our destiny, but it just isn’t the case. However, you can be flexible, patient, open-minded, and well-rounded. In doing so, not only will life go in a favorable direction, but  you will be able to handle almost anything.

“What’s done cannot be undone”

Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. While that may be true for King Henry the fourth, in this case, he’s also paranoid, panicky, and flat-out unhinged. In Joel Coen’s slightly more modern minimalist take on a classic, The Tragedy of Macbeth breathes new life into one of Shakespeare’s best. From the phenomenal performance of Denzel Washington to the beautiful cinematography, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything wrong with this film. To put it plainly, it’s impeccable. Now, we all know that the works of William Shakespeare take some time to fully digest as they are extensively detailed and dialogue-heavy plays, however, Coen and company crafted this film in such a way that you can understand what’s happening even if you watched it on mute. The expressiveness and energy brought to each role make it all come together. Nonetheless, I recommend sound as you don’t want to miss the eloquent and fiery rhythm of these relatively ancient lines and soliloquies. Its score heightens every scene and reverberates a level of tension that keeps you on your toes. Shot in black and white, the tragedy-filled tale looks and feels like the psychological thrillers of old while still fully resonating with a contemporary audience. With its themes of loyalty, relentless ambition, fate, and consequences, Macbeth continues to be a story that is timeless. Subsequently, with its stage play-like set design coupled with its masterful cinematography, you get a perfect marriage of broadway and screen. Not to mention, the use of light and shadow is magnificent. Moreover, its high level of direction, editing, and a veteran cast that can bring any script to life, it is the legendary talent of Denzel that elevates Macbeth to new heights. Also, let me not forget the fantastically eerie performance of Kathryn Hunter as the Witches. It honestly baffles me that anyone can remember all of the lines, and to deliver that with such electric confidence and fervor, it’s what makes Washington’s portrayal so special. Not for nothing, I commend anyone who has successfully played the role. Tackling a work of art that has proficiently been done before is no easy task. But to do it and arguably make it better, is even harder and it just happened. I thoroughly enjoyed The Tragedy of Macbeth and those who love the literature as well as the play will too. Its rewatchability is high.

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Pacing & Pop

Like most works of Shakespeare, the excitement, beauty, and pacing are in the words. That being said, Macbeth is arguably the pinnacle of all his plays. And the pacing of this rendition is more thriller-like than its predecessors. What popped easily popped for me was the performance of Denzel. However, what I found unique and standout-worthy is the film’s overall aesthetic. It looks wonderfully crisp and the minimalist approach to the production design really lets the actors shine.

Characters & Chemistry

Starring: Denzel Washington, Frances McDormand, Bertie Carvel, Alex Hassell, Corey Hawkins, Harry Melling, Brendan Gleeson, Kathryn Hunter, Moses Ingram

When we hear that Denzel Washington is attached to a project, we expect great things from the film as well as him. Well, unsurprisingly, he delivers one hell of a powerful performance. When you think back to everyone who has had the pleasure of playing the role of Macbeth, whether on stage or on screen, Denzel now sits on the throne at the top of the list. Frances McDormand continues her streak of great performances as Lady Macbeth. The fiery portrayal is definitely one that stands out. I think Corey Hawkins is one major role away from being a household name. As Macduff, he solidifies my statement. Lastly, Kathryn Hunter is as eerie and ominous as you can get as the Witches.

The Tragedy of Macbeth is now playing in select theaters and begins streaming on Apple Tv+ on January 14, 2021. Stay safe and enjoy.

Director: Joel Coen

Writer: Joel Coen

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Producers: Joel Coen, Frances McDormand, Robert Graf

Director of Photography: Bruno Delbonnel

Editing: Joel Coen, Lucian Johnston

Rated: R

Runtime: 1h 45m

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptqe7s6pO7g]

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