Like an old coat just back from an expensive dry-cleaner, Geoffrey Wright’s “Macbeth” most definitely isn’t new, but damn, it feels like it
Sam Worthington, Lachy Hulme, Victoria Hill, Steve Bastoni, Gary Sweet, Matt Doran, Mick Molloy, John Molloy, Rel Hunt, Damien Walshe-Howling, Kym Gyngell, Christopher Shen
Like an old coat just back from an expensive dry-cleaner, Geoffrey Wright’s “Macbeth” most definitely isn’t new, but damn, it feels like it.
Essentially Bazz Luhrmann’s “Romeo & Juliet” without ‘The Sunscreen Song’, the film H.G Wells’ the bard’s legendary literary landmark into the 21st century – and plants said writings smack bang into a setting & scenario straight out of a DePalma pic (Only that’s glorious Melbourne, looking ever so striking on film, playing host to the film’s Mr and Mrs Macs).
Wright (“Romper Stomper”) takes the overdone tale of Macbeth (let’s admit it, a straight-up version of it would be about as appealing as a stale bacon sandwich – its been done to death) and drops it into an urban crime story. Besides the fact that everyone’s walking around with guns, goons wear leather jackets, trucks are a main form of transport, and our hero has a snazzy mobile phone, it plays to the same tune: our young gangster wannabe (Worthington) wants to climb to the top of the crook ladder, but is informed by some ‘weird’ witches – who appear only to him, of course – that the only way to do that is to knock-off the big man (Gary Sweet). Slowly, Mr and Mrs (Victoria Hill) Macbeth’s plans for criminal domination start to get the better of them, especially when they decide its time to bring the redoubtable Macduff (Lachy Hulme) down.
The film may have worked just as well without the actors having to resort to speaking in the natural Shakespearean tongue – that may even have opened the doors to a wider audience – but its commendable that they have taken the tougher road. (Wright and co-writer Victoria Hill have done a top job of adapting it, too – adding a jazzy new spin to its body by simply taking it out of its own world, and into another, and resplendently detailing the surroundings). Still, it’s because of that that the film may be a cinematic wart – and take a while to grow on you.
The mass ensemble cast – including comic faves like Mick Molloy and Bob Franklin, making rare, and impressive, dramatic turns – pull off their roles as easily as someone slips off undirty socks at the end of the day. Sam Worthington and Victoria Hill are appropriately maniacal and immerse as the film’s Mr & Mrs Sinister, but it’s Lachy Hulme – best known here for the comedy “Let’s Get Skase” – who excels, delivering a likeable, heartfelt and highly credible performance as the film’s unlikely hero.
Though there are parts of the film that don’t work as well as others –either because the actor’s are concentrating too hard on saying the classic words than giving their all, or style starts to precedent over substance – for the most part, it’s a venerable, rather captivating effort that is rather refreshing in these recycled times.
The ever-present banshee of the wordy Shakespeare will be giving it two thumbs up. Hopefully there are enough brave cinemagoers to do the same.
Reviewer : Clint Morris