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The Tragedy of Macbeth                  review by Bobby Blakey


Throughout the years there have been so many different iterations of the works of William Shakespeare on the stage, big screen and small screen. It has become the gold standard for actors to not only improve their craft but to showcase their talents. The latest version hitting theaters is The Tragedy of Macbeth from director Joel Cohen. The film is an Apple original, but is getting a theatrical run first. Could this interesting take on the famed writings deliver or will it fail to take the throne?


The Tragedy of Macbeth follows a Scottish lord becomes convinced by a trio of witches that he will become the next King of Scotland, and his ambitious wife supports him in his plans of seizing power. This latest take features a great cast including Denzel Washington, Frances McDormand, Bertie Carvel, Alex Hassell, Corey Hawkins, Harry Melling, Brendan Gleeson and Kathryn Hunter.


I am not big on the whole Shakespeare thing, but always love to see the talent shine when they are able to really capture the essence of it all. I have seen version of Macbeth but would be lying if I said I remember element of it and its overall story. So going into this one I was pretty fresh minded with no expectations and I have to say this is pure brilliance in both performances and execution. It also offers up a simple brilliance of diversity without it being about that at all. Each character is who they are and nothing more which allows the story to flourish through its performances. 


It comes as no surprise that Denzel Washington executes his performance to perfection as does the rest of the cast, but for me it was the biggest joy getting to see Corey Hawkins stretch those acting chops in a new way. He is not given as many big speeches like Washington or the always great McDormand, but he brings so much depth and power to the role. 


McDormand doesn’t play it up as crazy as I have seen the character previously, but still does a great job.


The smaller but dark and important roles of the witches three are visually and physically excellent. Everytimet hey are on screen it is creepy and amazing to watch. Much of this is the visual representation and placement that makes them look more like the crows at times while still being human. This entire film works beyond the performances thanks to the outstanding look and tome further enhanced using the black and white color pallet. The sets are big and bold, but still look like something that could exist on the stage. This gives it the production look of the stage where these are usually at home while still making it film worthy and a feast of the senses.


While not someone who would run to anything Shakespeare related I loved everything about this film. It is a masterclass in performance, set design, lighting and visuals that creates the tone and essence to both Shakespeare and the stage. It is obviously one that is only going to work for those willing  to give it a shot or that love and understand Shakespeare, but I hope it finds the audience it deserves whether on the big screen or beyond.


Get out there and support something different with The Tragedy of Macbeth in theaters now and streaming on January 14 on Apple TV+.

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