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  Macbeth Is This A Dag I See Before Me?
Year: 2006
Director: Geoffrey Wright
Stars: Sam Worthington, Victoria Hill, Lachy Hulme, Gary Sweet, Steve Bastoni, Mick Molloy, Matt Doran, Damian Walshe-Howling, Jonny Pasvolsky, Rel Hunt, John Molloy, Miranda Nation, Chloe Armstrong, Kate Bell, Bob Franklin, Craig Stott, Kat Stewart, Kym Gyngell
Genre: ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Macbeth (Sam Worthington) is rising through the ranks of the Melbourne underworld. Today he has been at the graveyard and spotted a trio of teenage girls who had been desecrating the gravestones and chanting all the while, and it sets him wondering. Tonight, however, he is at an important drugs deal with his cohorts, and it all goes well until the gunfire begins, with Macbeth leaving bodies in his wake until he reaches the nightclub where he captures one of the enemy for his boss, Duncan (Gary Sweet). But Macbeth's ambition will take him so far, despite the encouragement of his ruthless wife (Victoria Hill)...

Updating the plays of William Shakespeare for the big screen is far from an original idea, if we're talking Australians then Baz Luhrmann must be noted for his Romeo + Juliet which also took a gangland setting for his vision. And if we're talking gangsters, then Britain had its own Joe Macbeth in the fifties and the United States gave the idea a go with Men of Respect in the nineties, so the question is what director Geoffrey Wright, who also adapted the play with star Hill, do to the material to justify another variation.

The answer is seems to be to make it a bit daft, which means you either indulge its innovations or roll your eyes at the clunky way the text is handled. To be fair, some of Wright and Hill's notions are amusing, such as way the ghost appears at the banquet in a mirror, only seen by Macbeth in the reflection, but others have a sensationalist ring to them, such as the three witches being young and attractive here, and all jumping into bed with the anti-hero for a romp.

Not all of the dialogue makes it to the final cut, which may explain the long pauses between the scenes of talk, which are all very well for setting up the atmosphere but have a stop-start effect on the action. With that in mind, they stick to the basic plot, as Lady Macbeth goads her husband into killing off Duncan after a party they have invited him and others to at their home. Macbeth carries out the deed, but has sold his soul to the devil for the chance at success, as has his wife, who goes downhill alarmingly quickly, one minute scheming and the next rolling around screaming.

There are those who would say that Geoffrey Wright hadn't really lived up to his early promise, but Romper Stomper looks overrated now and Metal Skin was pretty appalling. Hollywood wasn't kind to him with the nice idea squandered Cherry Falls, so after that it was good to see him come up with something as enterprising as this Macbeth. But as could be appreciated with those previous attempts, mixing gangsters and Shakespeare might appear a clever idea, but it's not as satisfying a fit as it sounds, and while this version approaches the story with gusto, it's difficult to take seriously, with additions like police surveillance looking awkward more than anything else, especially as you would have thought the law would offer a more obvious intervention in the day and age the film is set in. Music by John Clifford White.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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