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EIFF Review: Macbeth Unhinged



Coming hot on the trail of Justin Kurzel's blisteringly intense Fassbender-lead adaptation of William Shakespeare's Macbeth is an altogether completely different take on the Bard's classic. Scottish actor Angus Macfadyen takes the title role, adapts and directs Macbeth Unhinged - an independent feature that takes a glimpse into the Thane of Cawdor's descent into madness.

This urban retelling predominantly transports Shakespeare's play to the back of limousine which crawls derelict New York streets, whilst capturing the events in a sharp black and white crispness.

This is clearly a passion project for Macfadyen and praise should be given to him for approaching an often-adapted text in a wholly original manner instead of simply recreating what has come before. Macfadyen also collaborated with Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts students in a move to give trainees the opportunity to work with skilled professionals within the film industry - a refreshingly kind act in an industry where trainees often find it hard to get a foot in the door of their chosen-career.

Macfadyen leads Macbeth Unhinged with a real ferocity uttering Shakespeare's lyricism with an authentic grittiness and command of the screen. Paired with an experimental style from bold and often unsettling sound design and bouts of grimy visual surrealism, Macfadyen has crafted a mostly-interesting cinematic experience.

However, within this experimental style Macbeth Unhinged can verge on inaccessible. Without the settings directly inspired by the original text, moments can become lost in the unpleasant and claustrophobic setting of the stretch limo. Shakespeare's play never fully convinces in this setting, with events continually feeling off-kilter and muddled. Iconic moments and character traits like Lady Macbeth's manipulation feel lost in this experimental approach, as do the confusing depiction of Duncan and Banquo's murders. Without a previous knowledge of Macbeth viewers could potentially be completely lost.

There is much to admire about this refreshing take on Shakespeare's text, but Macbeth Unhinged was a watch that I generally felt inaccessible and tiring.


★★

Director: Angus Macfadyen
Stars: Angus Macfadyen, Taylor Roberts, Kevin McNally
William Shakespeare 3104442769220805383
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