Ultra-atmospheric and wildly stylish, Justin Kurzel’s unique interpretation of Macbeth is an aesthetic powerhouse, containing some of the most gorgeous individual shots that I’ve seen in an any movie in recent memory. Cinematographer Adam Arkapaw delivered some insanely detailed and lushly realized images all throughout this stunning motion picture, utilizing time-heightening slow-motion in a way that would make Zack Snyder proud, and concentrating on natural light and a heav…y use of filters and smoke. The film looks to have been shot at the end of the Earth, recalling the eerie vibe that was presented in Nicolas Winding Refn’s Valhalla Rising, with striking location work, evocative production design, and a thundering musical score that’s as propulsive as the visceral filmmaking. Kurzel and Arkapaw and the rest of the creative team stress grit, muck, and mud while focusing on crimson reds, deep blacks, and various shades of amber and gold; this is a simultaneously warm and cold feeling and looking movie, one that feels damp one moment and lit-by-fire-cozy the next.
Michael Fassbender is power mad and drunk with bravado, delivering an all-stops-out performance, while Marion Cotillard is every bit his equal in a more restrained but no less engrossing turn as his long suffering companion. This is Macbeth as historical action film, complete with elaborately staged battle sequences that are more interested in hallucinatory style than overly bloody carnage; it’s brutal yet oh-so poetic. This is pure cinema, exactly the sort of thing I want to see when I sit down to watch a movie, a work made by a supremely confident and talented filmmaker. It was clear after watching Kurzel’s magnetic yet extremely disturbing debut, The Snowtown Murders, that he was someone to look out for in the future. I cannot believe how no attention was paid to his bold and breathtaking reimagining of Macbeth, as he took classic material and did something different and modern with one of history’s most classic pieces of literature.