Now that Joel Coen‘s The Tragedy of Macbeth has opened at the New York Film Festival and drawn polite raves from 90% of the critics, it’s time to come down to earth and examine what people really think.
Friend of Jordan Ruimy: “I was very cold on this…the whole time watching I was thinking BORING. The performances are very subdued…Denzel has a couple of genuinely moving moments… but Frances McForman’s Lady Macbeth part is truncated and even the ‘out damn spot’ scene was heavily edited…the cinematography and sets have a stark theatrical look, which struck me as fake…\lots of artifice in general which I usually like but not this time…I’m frankly surprised by the over-the-top high praise…[the film] felt completely unnecessary… I’m sure the cast and crew had a great time doing it but why?”
[HE interjection: Because Frances McDormand wanted to play a 60ish Lady Macbeth, and so she asked her husband to direct a stage version and Joel, wanting to oblige, decided he’d prefer shooting it on film.]
Critic friendo responds: “What does ‘unnecessary’ mean? Why is a movie ‘necessary?’ This is a tale of corporate scheming and ruthlessness that fits very well into the spirit of our time. If this guy found it boring, so be it, but I wasn’t bored for a minute. The movie is visually transfixing. Denzel is terrific in it — emotional and alive.”
Guy who attended Tavern on the Green after-party: “Opinions were all over the map. I’d say two-fifths [or 40%] of the people I talked to were highly enthusiastic, and all in the same way — caught up in the film’s amazing look, and in Washington’s performance. Of the remaining three-fifths [or 60%]**, I’d say half of them thought it was decent but not better, and half actively disliked it. So it’s not for everyone. But I actually think it’s a commercial movie. At least, to the extent that a movie of Macbeth can be. (Even the Polanski version, I believe, was a box-office bomb.)”
** What he’s basically saying is that 30% of the people he spoke to, or close to one-third, hated it. And this was a crowd of swells, remember — invitees who probably felt it would be impolite to enjoy free food and drink while trashing the film. So you can probably raise that 30% to 40%.