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Macbeth: A stage-to-film adaptation that doesn’t quite translate

Krystin Pellerin as Lady Macbeth and Ian Lake as Macbeth in Macbeth

David Hou

2.5 out of 4 stars

Written by
William Shakespeare
Directed by
Shelagh O’Brien
Starring
Ian Lake and Krystin Pellerin
Country
USA
Language
English

Stratford artistic director Antoni Cimolino ripped a page from the Game of Thrones playbook last season to create a sexy, youthful and bloody Macbeth. But catching it on film, directed for the Stratford Festival HD series by Shelagh O'Brien, it's hard to understand the rave reviews – partly because what must have looked chilling on stage becomes merely murky on screen, and partly because the production's concept is not carried through with sufficient conviction into the second half.

Ian Lake's nasty young Macbeth and Krystin Pellerin's grasping Lady Macbeth make a lascivious and impetuous pair, their scenes offering a compelling contemporary version of bloodlust and ambition, but the rest of the production is soon travelling rather erratically down familiar roads.

Creepily costumed witches begin the show strongly, but resort to mere shouting on their second appearance; Michael Blake's moving MacDuff is paired with a Malcolm (Antoine Yared), who makes their scene together psychologically incomprehensible before men hiding behind pine boughs finally rush the stage. For a contemporary cinematic Macbeth, see Justin Kurzel's 2015 film instead.

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About the Author

Kate Taylor is lead film critic at the Globe and Mail and a columnist in the arts section. More

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