' ' Cinema Romantico: 297 Words on...The Tragedy of Macbeth

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

297 Words on...The Tragedy of Macbeth

Joel Coen (with his brother Ethan previously) has specialized in hard luck losers in hermetically sealed words designed to ensure their loss. As the years have gone on, perhaps they have shaken up that insulated world-building but in “Tragedy of Macbeth”, an adaptation of That Scottish Play from Stratford-upon-Avon, the tragic world of its vicious anti-heroes has never felt so confined. Filmed on a Warner Bros. Burbank lot, it is a triumph of moody German Expressionism exaggerating the darkness and emptiness of the Thane of Glamis cum Thane of Cawdor cum King of Scotland (Denzel Washington), massive and empty interiors so when there is knocking up above it seems to ensconce the whole room, immersing Macbeth in the echo, the movie feeling most untrue, frankly, when more characters are involved onscreen. Scotland, never mind its people, have never felt further away, as if all this madness of murderous politics undertaken by politicians has little bearing on them, just the power-hungry, their political posturing played out on a (gloomy) stage where they perform simply for themselves. In casting an older Macbeth and Lady Macbeth (Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand, respectively), the sort of Coen-ish dark humor gets even darker, their lack of an heir underpinning the whole scheme as no less ludicrous than Jerry Lundegaard’s in “Fargo”, yet somehow still compelled. I confess, that came through for me more in Washington than McDormand, not just in the late movie shot of him slumped on his throne like an exhausted thirty-year man at Met Life who just wants this all to be over and eat his retirement cake, and his conversational Shakespeare which sounds like a man talking himself through things he can’t quite understand. “Come what come may,” he says, a man grudgingly ready to play his part.

No comments: