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Stars: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, David Thewlis, Sean Harris, Elizabeth Debicki, Jack Reynor, Paddy Considine, David Hayman, Maurice Roeves

Director: Justin Kurzel

A very murky version of Bill Shakespeare's Scottish play, full of sound and fury, spittle and blood, but perhaps signifying little to today's mainstream audiences.

German-born, Irish-raised Fassbender, playing the 11th century noble who covets the throne of Scotland, declaims the Bard's famous dialogue with vigour, though he fails to find much subtlety in it, and the director is in any case more interested in imagery than speechifying, from blood-red landscapes to the gloomy interiors of the Thane's castle.

France' Cotillard perhaps wisely attempts no Scottish accent as the cold-blooded Lady Macbeth, as her English is flawless. Most of the supporting cast, though, are almost unrecgnisable beneath beards, especially Considine as the doomed Banquo - and his notorious reappearance as a ghost falls rather flat in the hands of the young Australian director.

The three witches are little more than ciphers here but, as in some of Hitchcock's films, murder (here of Duncan, the king) is depicted as the messy business it can be.

When the dialogue is allowed to be the star, the film comes to life, but by and large this is a Macbeth without too much character that will never haunt the memory in the fashion of Orson Welles' classic black-and-white version.

David Quinlan

UK 2015. UK Distributor: StudioCanal. Colour by Panalux.
111 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 27 Sep 2015