Directed by Geoffrey Wright. Starring Sam Worthington, Victoria Hill, Lachy Hulme, Gary Sweet, Steve Bastoni, Mick Molloy, Matt Doran, Damian Walshe-Howling, Jonny Pasvolsky. (2006, NR, 109 min.)
REVIEWED By Josh Rosenblatt, Fri., Aug. 10, 2007
If you were Lady Macbeth, what would worry you more? The fact that your boundless ambition has dropped you down a well of blood, despair, and madness … or that your husband refuses to take off his colored sunglasses in the house? These are the questions that test great souls: Out, damned spot, or off, damned Ray-Bans? Macbeth, as you’ll recall from your school days, is that famous “Scottish play” about the Australian gangster with a taste for paisley suits, prescription medications, and automatic weapons. After leading his gang in a lengthy slow-motion gun fight – set to a techno soundtrack – against a rival crew of drug dealers, Macbeth is left standing as the new No. 2 man to gang paterfamilias Duncan (Sweet). You may remember that Macbeth then kills Duncan at the insistence of his wicked wife (Hill), setting off a long string of crimes that consolidate Macbeth’s power but doom him to a shortened life full of delusion and paranoia. You may not, however, recall that paranoia being quite as drug-induced as it is in the new film by Australian filmmaker Wright (Romper Stomper). But that’s one of those modern touches that not only puts a nice spin on an old tale but that updates the vocabulary of the original to make it more resonant with today’s less mystically minded audiences. Many of us have found ourselves on the wrong end of a bad drug experience, and who among us can honestly say we’ve never hallucinated three Sapphic schoolgirls passing themselves off as witches, or worse? It’s just old William Shakespeare on a particularly ugly Saturday night. The result may not shed much light on the psychological intricacies of the bard’s play, but literary interpretation isn’t really the point with a film like this. In a world of hyperstylized gangsters where everyone’s leather jackets hang just so, where guns gleam perfectly in the moonlight, and where the latest Macintosh computer or Mercedes-Benz says as much about the life of a character as the battles he wages with his own inner demons, it’s probably best not to look too deep for meaning. Best just to say Macbeth is coming down hard and leave it at that.