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For those who want a little Scarface with their Shakespeare, Aussie filmmaker Geoffrey Wright's Macbeth imagines the Bard's tale of power, greed, and madness as an ultra-violent gangster opus populated by pretty faces who'd be right at home on the CW. In the wake of Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet and Michael Almereyda's Hamlet, this modernized approach isn't unique, nor is it effectively implemented, with gaudy visuals and the cast's clunky handling of iambic pentameter rendering the film's drama superficial and vacuous. In the Melbourne underworld, mobster Macbeth (Sam Worthington) is driven by the unscrupulous advice of his wife (Victoria Hill) and the prophesy of three witches (Chloe Armstrong, Kate Bell, and Miranda Nation) to off kingpin Duncan (Gary Sweet) and assume his criminal empire's throne. Worthington's glittery open-buttoned shirts, two-day-old scruff, and stylish bangs help cast the falling-from-grace Macbeth as some sort of junkie rock star, though it's unclear why Wright sets much of the action in a wood-paneled hunting lodge replete with mounted deer heads, or why he uses certain modern trappings (like laser-sighted machine guns) and not others (like security cameras, which would immediately reveal Macbeth's treachery). A thirst for power may be the reason Macbeth listens to the three witches, who in the Hammer Horror-ish opening scene playfully desecrate a cemetery and hiss at each other while dressed in schoolgirl uniforms. But the film is so interested in shallow titillation that it eventually seems as though its protagonist heeds the supernatural ladies' advice primarily because he's a stoned moron, and they're willing to have a foursome with him. The witches' tattooed bare asses are matched by that of Lady Macbeth, who gets to enact her climactic “out, damn spot!” meltdown and subsequent suicide in nothing but skimpy panties, a choice which says nothing about her anxious fears, but everything about Wright's desperate, ill-conceived aim to make Shakespeare palatable for a generation weaned on flashy Tarantino-isms.

Truly Indie
109 min
Geoffrey Wright
Victoria Hill, Geoffrey Wright
Sam Worthington, Victoria Hill, Lachy Hulme, Gary Sweet, Steve Bastoni, Mick Molloy, Miranda Nation, Chloe Armstrong, Kate Bell

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