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sexta-feira, 9 de outubro de 2015
Filme : Macbeth (2015) : Macbeth review: 'Fassbender was born for this'
Blockbuster battle scenes, spine-tingling staging, utterly believable performances: is this as good as Shakespeare on film gets?
What’s left to be done with a play once Orson Welles, Akira Kurosawa and Roman Polanski have finished with it? In the case of Macbeth, the answer is plenty, providing you’re prepared to dig – and this new adaptation of Shakespeare’s Scottish tragedy from the Australian filmmaker Justin Kurzel tunnels deep.
From out of almost nowhere – Kurzel’s only previous feature, Snowtown, was an almost unbearably tough true-life serial killer drama set in his native Australia – the director has conjured one of the great Shakespearean movies: it’s fit to stand alongside the Welles, Kurosawa and Polanski Macbeths, and is as unmistakably of its time as those three are of theirs.
Both the setting and language are un-updated: the action unfolds in Middle-Ages Scotland, and what words there are, are Shakespeare’s. But the play itself has been stripped down to its carcass. Iconic moments like the “double, double” incantations and the porter scene have been cut, along with the character of Donalbain, while previously familiar passages have been re-interpreted in unexpected, ingenious ways: if you thought the only way Birnam Wood could come to Dunsinane was via a squadron of soldiers with branches poking out of their helmets, then think again. Kurzel and his trio of screenwriters, Jacob Koskoff, Michael Leslie and Todd Louiso, have done, repeatedly and courageously – and as a result, this endlessly studied 400-year-old piece of drama regains its power to mesmerise and shock.
None of this would have counted for much without the right cast. Kurzel’s Macbeth, though, has been blessed with just about the rightest cast imaginable. It is built around a pair of cosmically powerful performances from Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard: using the word "definitive" in relation to Shakespeare is pointless, so let’s just say you wouldn’t want to follow them.
It’s hard to shake the sense that Fassbender was born for this. When his Macbeth confesses to his wife, after the murder of King Duncan sees him elevated to the throne of Scotland, that his mind is “full of scorpions”, the actor’s agonised delivery, pleading eyes and hungry grin makes you feel the creatures’ thorny legs pattering up his brain stem.
Cotillard’s rendition of Lady Macbeth’s famous sleepwalking scene, meanwhile, is perhaps the single finest piece of self-contained acting I’ve seen so far in the cinema this year. Earlier in the film, she has the cold, ivory composure of a Lewis chess piece, aided by Jacqueline Durran’s extraordinary costumes and her supremely eerie, almost Black Swan-like make-up. But this is the point at which she cracks.
Performed in a state of full wakefulness in a wooden chapel, uninterrupted by courtiers, the scene becomes a spare and jagged soliloquy, which Cotillard wields like a shard of broken glass to be dragged across her wrists. If a persistent problem in adapting Shakespeare for the cinema is working out exactly whom the soliloquies should be directed at, the solution Kurzel alights on here – revealed in silence at its end – packs a steam-hammer emotional blow.
Back in 1971, Polanski’s great innovation in making his Macbeth was to drag every scrap of cruelty and brutality centre-stage. It was the first film the director made after his wife and unborn child were slaughtered by the Manson Family, and the sourness of the end of the Free Love era hangs over every scene like the smell of burnt flesh. Kurzel’s film takes a different tack – though the film’s opening sequence, in which Macbeth’s army defeats the traitorous Thane of Cawdor in battle, is as gut-churning as anything in the Polanski, with limbs severed and throats slit in transfixing slow motion, while the score by Jed Kurzel (the director’s brother) throbs and drones with stormy foreboding.
One of the film’s most inspired touches is to paint Macbeth as a battle-weary general whose fits and hallucinations are brought on by post-traumatic stress disorder. This gives a new context to some of the play’s spectral elements without defanging them – the “Is this a dagger which I see before me?” scene is a particularly smart example – although the witches themselves remain a wholly supernatural and brilliantly unsettling presence, whose appearances are heralded by a quiet, hollow knocking noise that had me twisting in my seat.
The Macbeths’ conspicuous childlessness is teased out into another major theme. The film doesn’t open on the expected three witches, but the blue-white body of a boy, laid to rest on a carpet of heather and moss, with stones placed delicately on his eyes. This missing son and heir haunts the entire film, adding a bitter pathos to the Macbeths’ determination to wipe out not just their rivals but their entire bloodlines.
Everything here is so perfectly in tune with itself – the bruised and smouldering landscapes, the uniformly outstanding supporting cast, which includes Paddy Considine as a stolid, wary Banquo and Sean Harris as a wraithlike Macduff – that you might expect the film to feel a little too neatly self-contained and vacuum-packed, like Game of Thrones with an arts degree. In fact it’s the opposite: raw, visceral and contagious. Its poetry gets in your bloodstream.I