The Tragedy of Macbeth

An unsettlingly timely tale

Screenwriter/director Joel Coen brings to the screen a lean and mean version of Shakespeare’s oft-quoted tragedy with imagination, brio and an arresting, powerfully stark, retina-scalding visual approach (an old-fashioned 4:5 ratio, a percussive soundtrack and an understanding of ghostly monochrome that Orson Welles would admire).

The story if you don’t know it: the title Scottish lord (Denzel Washington) becomes convinced by a trio of witches that he is destined to be the next king of Scotland and makes it so with the murderous support of his ambitious wife (Frances McDormand). But their reward is guilt, madness and of course more murders. The terrific cast includes Alex Hassell, Brendan Gleeson, Corey Hawkins and notably Kathryn Hunter, spellbinding as the witches.

Note: Even if you’re familiar with the tale, a glance at Wikipedia’s plot synopsis will help get you through all that iambic pentameter. (105 min)