The Tragedy of Macbeth

The Tragedy of Macbeth ★★★★

A different type of Coen experience, maybe closest to True Grit in its doomy gloomy worldview, which also makes it very telling that Joel chose to adapt this as his third adaptation (alongside Portis and McCarthy's novels). Coen movies have always been about manifest destiny and the cruel farces therein, so it makes sense for Joel to go back to where it all started and not waste a single moment in drawing out his very own version.

Coen adaptations rarely stray far from the original text's path (bar O Brother, but can you really call that an Odyssey adaptation if neither of them read it?), but instead pepper in some nice idiosyncratic touches that mark it as their own. Solo Joel(-o) doesn't have the crutch of his trademark verbose poetry to lean on here, so has to bring the character in a few more interesting ways; Ross' expanded role that deepens and muddies the character's motivations, the ageing Macbeths' obscure motivations against the raging current of time, casting a bunch of very interesting cult faces and giving them their own time to shine against the A-listers firing on all cylinders, etc. It's all good fun and a joy to watch despite the text's and the film's oppressive dourness, and though I don't think it's the cleanest, purest adaptation of them all (Kurzel's still probably cinches that for me), it's a singular ice-cool back-to-basics take on the material that adds a fascinating new string to the Coen bow(en).

Simon liked these reviews