This latest adaptation faces some stiff competition. It’s still hard to beat either Kurosawa or Polanski’s versions; indeed, director Justin Kursel’s version requires three screenwriters to wrestle the source material into a fairly lean 113 minutes. Predictably, though, this is a project that attracts significant star wattage and Kursel is well-served by Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth; elsewhere, Paddy Considine, Sean Harris and David Thewlis bring their own particular brand of brooding gravitas.
But for a play that is very much about claustrophobic, internalized struggles, Kursel makes good use of outside spaces – the Scottish landscape becomes a vast, natural soundstage for the murderous intrigues of the Macbeths. Kursel shoots his battles with grim, steely determination – they are brutal and convulsive, very much alive to the propulsive rhythms of the play and its grisly temperament.