Macbeth Unhinged – EIFF 2016

EIFF 2016Festival Coverage

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The directorial debut from Scottish actor Angus Macfayden (Braveheart, Saw II) Macbeth Unhinged is a courageous, but faulted, reinterpretation of the timeless Shakespeare play.

Macfayden, who also wrote the film, updates The Bard’s “Scottish Play”, repositioning it in gangland America, using derelict urban environments and the back of a limousine as his primary locations. It’s a great idea and serves his purposes well; to take one of the most famous power-plays ever written and subject it to the grimy underbelly of the American cityscape. Not just that, but to put dangerously self-possessed characters into the constrictive environment of a car provides some intense moments. The performances are rich and focused, Macfayden makes a superb Macbeth whilst Kevin McNally, Taylor Roberts, and Harry Lennix all lend considerable talent and theatrical gravitas.

Technically the film is a bold piece of work, adopting stark B&W and Hitchcockian superimpositions to deliver something commendably avant-guard for a debut. Arthur Eng’s cinematography is perfect, summoning consistently powerful images that still entertain when the film starts to wobble. There’s something vaguely self-indulgent about the project that becomes increasingly apparent as the film progresses. If you don’t know Macbeth well, then you could feel lost in the wilderness of Macfayden’s messy adaptation; an adaptation which grasps the madness perfectly, but perhaps not the narrative. Macbeth Unhinged is an intriguing, well-acted, but eventually grating debut.

Scott Clark

Dir. Angus Macfayden

Stars. Angus Macfayden, Taylor Roberts, Kevin McNally, Harry Lennix, Seth Numrich

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