Never Say Macbeth (2006) – By Duane L. Martin

 Jeez…I don’t even know where to begin with this one.  I had five reviews to do for this month’s issue, and I left this one until last because I really didn’t know how to say how unbelievably awesome this movie is.  Words like awesome, entertaining, funny and brilliant don’t even begin to cover it.  It was surprising too, because I really was expecting just another average indie film when I accepted this for review, but what I got instead was a film that I would rate as one of the top two or three indie films I’ve reviewed in the last three years.

Basically, what I was told about this film when it was sent to me is that it was sort of like a combination of Waiting for Guffman and Beetlejuice.  If you haven’t seen Waiting for Guffman or any of Christopher Guest’s other mockumentaries, that probably won’t mean much to you, but trust me…they’re great films.  This film isn’t actually a mockumentary though.  It’s a straight up comedy with some romantic elements to it and a ghost story thrown in for good measure.

The long and the short of the story is this.  Danny’s (Joe Tyler Gold, who also incidentally wrote the film) girlfriend left him to move to L.A. where she’s been cast in a stage production of Macbeth.  Danny follows her out there because he’s in love with her and ends up at the theater where auditions are being held.  The director of the play mistakenly thinks he’s there to audition, and when Danny tells his heartbreaking story to the director, the director thinks it’s simply a monologue Danny used to audition and gives him a part in the play as one of the witches.  In the waiting area earlier however, Danny had mistakenly asked if that was the right place for the Macbeth auditions, and you’d have thought the world was going to end.  The other actors freaked big time when he said the name of the play because supposedly, if you say the name Macbeth backstage, the whole production will be cursed and bad things will happen.  They even have a cleansing ritual for people who’ve mistakenly said it.

So the production goes on, and Danny takes the role in the film just so he can be close to his ex-girlfriend Ruth (Ilana Kira).  He stays with one of the other actors, and with the help of a few of his fellow cast members, attempts to win back his lost love.  However, she seems to now be more interested in a television bad boy who she knew a long time ago and who’s also been cast in the lead role.  Fortunately for Danny, you don’t always find love where you expected.

The other part of the story revolves around a fire that took place in the theater back in the 50’s.  There were three plays being done in the theater at the time.  The Important of Being Earnest, Macbeth and The Pirates of Penzance.  Now, whenever someone says the name Macbeth and the stage lights are turned on, anyone who’s uttered the cursed name can see the ghosts, and interact with them somewhat.  Eventually Danny and his fellow cast member and future girlfriend Tamara (Tania Getty), who’ve both said the name and can see the ghosts, get sucked back in time into the spirit world where they have a chance to help stop the fire and put things right for the poor, tormented souls who still wander the stage, rehearsing their roles.

Let me just say this right now.  There is not a single bad performance in this movie.  Every member of the cast was just brilliant.  They created a hilarious and quirky world into which you will happily feel yourself being enveloped.  I’d have to say though, that of all the characters in this film, the director of the play, Jason (Alexander Enberg), was probably my favorite.  He was absolutely hilarious and just fun to watch.

The film has a really cute animated title sequence, which is a rarity in independent film, and some very nice visual effects as well.  I think the thing that impressed me the most about this film though, aside from the outstanding performances, was the fact that there was such a brilliant mix of quirky characters thrown into a mix where all the comedy just worked.  This was an unbelievably fun film that was well paced, well edited and just outstanding in every respect.  I was really almost depressed when it ended, and that’s unusual for me.

Sadly, this film is currently appearing at film festivals and is not available for sale.  The minute it is available for sale, or if you are lucky enough to be able to attend a film festival where it’s showing, make sure you see it.  This is one of those films that’s just special, and should absolutely not be missed under any circumstances.  In fact, I was so impressed with it, I’m giving it the Rogue Cinema Cinematic Excellence Award.

If you’d like to find out more about this film (which I can’t suggest strongly enough) and get information about screenings, you can check out the film’s website at http://www.neversaymacbeth.com.