Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand take on the most infamous power couple in literary history, in the care of Joel Coen.

Homage has always been the Coen Brothers’ lingua franca, and while Joel and Ethan parted ways with the prospects of another joint feature film looking grim, that hasn’t changed much. Their films add chilling quotes to hidden American genres like western, slimy comedy, noir, or musical, a practice Joel applies to the concept of the filmed play in less overt and ironic ways in his early days as a filmmaker. as a solo director.

His beautifully staged The Tragedy of Macbeth finds a new angle on an English staple 101 by scanning the past for aesthetic clues and tapping into its lineage of magnificent artifice. The Academy’s austere black-and-white photography and square ratio foster an old-world aura.

Not the medieval era in which Macbeth (Denzel Washington, at the height of his powers) jockeyed for the throne of Scotland, but rather transports us to the first half of the 20th century, when the membrane between Tinseltown and the halls the smarter ones on Broadway were more porous and permissive. Coen eschewed location shooting for jaw-dropping sound stages to simulate the brutality of theater without being boxed in by the shape of the proscenium.

The Tragedy Of Macbeth - Light Home News

While her screenplay stays true to the text, Frances McDormand finds new shades of defiance in Lady Macbeth, and Kathryn Hunter’s gurgling portrayal of the Weird Sisters suggests Gollum might be their brother. In a role played so many times that his dialogue has begun to sound like incantation, Washington reinvigorates Big Mac’s apprehension and eventual lust for power with unexpected readings, downplaying big moments and losing all gravity in scenes. calmer. He practically throws the “tomorrow and tomorrow” soliloquy, and it works because by this point he’s already demonstrated how much he cares.

The creative departures show up in the spartan sets and the way cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel films them. Inside, Coen gives his cast little more than walls and large blocks of stone shrouded in a frame-whitening mist. When paired with a history so steeped in centuries of consecration, Coen’s meticulous craftsmanship can sometimes slip into formalism for its own good, as if Shakespeare’s words functioned as scaffolding on which to hang the compositions. pictorial.

During what we might sadly call “the age of brothers,” their typical draft would be filled with commentary, symbolism, and philosophical tangents. However elevated by style, this is what it is, its plain and unaltered narrative.

Even though the dry wit and pungent hints may be absent, the technical virtuosity on display marks this as the work of a master. Visceral, haunting and severe, Coen’s vision not only brings out the intensity of the piece – every “gritty” take has done, from Roman Polanski to Justin Kurzel – but in its older renderings. Newly single, he is rediscovering what it means to make his own film. That won’t stop him from crafting them like before.

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