This Northern Ireland adaptation of Macbeth was set in the maximum security Maghaberry prison with a cast of serving prisoners, and was shot as part of a prisoner rehabilitation programme by The Educational Shakespeare Company.
While it is difficult to criticise a film based on good intentions, for me, on pure entertainment, the film did not succeed. The acting was understandably shaky, although one or two standout performances provided some drama, and the colloquial language helped break the feeling that the actors were uncomfortable with their lines. It was, however, an otherwise flat production, which even though it only lasted one hour still felt too long.
That said, the value of this film is in its ability to promote prisoner rehabilitation. Some may question the choice of Macbeth (and a particularly violent portrayal of it) as the correct film to produce in this situation, however the underlying story parallels the prisoners’ situation – choose violence as your method of getting what you want and you live and deal with the consequences.
While the production quality (the prison surroundings, the shaky camera work and the cold blue screen cast) could have filled the story with edgy drama and tension, the unsteady acting killed any atmosphere that may have been created and made the whole thing feel a bit corny.
Not the best film we’ve seen at the festival by a long way but nonetheless a worthwhile project.
Mickey B (2007): 2/5