6/10 There was cause for great sadness when this project was first announced as this was the first movie where the Coen Brothers were going separate ways with their upcoming projects. No, they didn’t have a falling out and are still on solid terms but they both knew that not all of their projects/interests were ones that both of them wanted to do. Joel Coen takes on the writing and directing duties solo this time and while the production aspects are fantastic, not everything works, including aspects that may surprise you. To be totally honest upfront, I am not a fan of Shakespeare. I totally understand how brilliant the man was in his time and all he did for literature but today I view Shakespeare in the same way I view the cassette player or the VCR. The best at what they did at their respective times but have since been surpassed and are now a relic that I don’t dwell on or care about. When modern characters speak in the Old English, Shakespearean dialogue, which we don’t speak today obviously, it just makes most things hard to understand with what they are saying. This is the main reason I hate watching any work of Shakespeare adapted without also updating the language. The original (and superior) “West Side Story” took Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” and not only updated the setting and location to something more modern and relatable (for American audiences at least) but updated the language as well so everyone could understand it. Those are my favorite kinds of Shakespeare adaptations. In leaving the original language, much gets lost without translation. I watched the Michael Fassbender “Macbeth” from 2015 so I would have something to compare this to and actually found the 2015 Justin Kurzel directed version to be better. The character of Macbeth is an evil, selfish, wicked man and the 2015 version, paired with Fassbender’s performance, really highlighted that. One problem with this movie is that Coen’s version, with Denzel Washington’s performance, makes him too sympathetic, like we are supposed to root for him. This downplays his evil to turn him into a protagonist, which he is not. Another problem is that Washington has no chemistry with Frances McDormand, who plays his wife. Both are great actors but their pairing fails to ignite anything. Lastly, despite Washington being an amazing actor, he was over the top in a couple of scenes when he would start shouting and moving around wildly, as if he was overacting a bit. This is the only time I can think of where he has done this but that is probably what made it stand out to me. As for what worked, this is some of the best cinematography of 2021 which should at least warrant an Oscar nomination. The score was haunting, the production design was simultaneously minimal and stage like while also grand and enveloping and the costume design was flawless. The editing and scene transitions were also some of the best of last year. The supporting cast really stood out for me with Kathryn Hunter as “Witches” whose physical and vocal performances were some of the most memorable and I would love to see her get a Best Supporting Actress nomination since she truly deserves it. The direction was strong and I look forward to what Joel Coen can do solo when it comes to a more modern story spoken in today’s English language. The Shakespearean dialogue, slight overacting from Washington, lack of chemistry between the two Macbeths and overly sympathetic nature of Macbeth’s character takes away from some of the best production values of 2021 with incredible camera work, visuals, tone, mood, sound effects, music and more. To see or not to see? That is the question. Only a movie for huge Shakespeare fans as everyone else could take a pass on this one, I doth protest.

#Shakesdrear / #TillMacbethDoUsPart / #FeigningDay / #HailGeezer / #GhostInTheGraveyard2 / #StraightOuttaCoen

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