Of course Stewart is the main attraction and he is very good. I like how we see from the beginning that the idea of ruling appeals to him, even if the idea of murder doesn't. This hint of ambition is the ‘seed‘ from which the whole story must grow. As the violence spreads, so does his intensity and paranoia. Matching him however is Fleetwood as Lady Macbeth. She plays the noblewoman as wicked from the get go, greedy for power and willing to push her husband to do the unthinkable.
Of course Lady Macbeth is soon overwhelmed by the world she created and Fleetwood plays those key moments leading up to the sleepwalking scene with great skill. Setting the story in this mythical 1950s in what appears to be a Soviet controlled country adds a bit of visual interest to the story. Goold keeps the setting industrial and sparse in nature. The war hospital where the story opens is appropriately battered & ruined. The end battle takes place in a bunker or an underground catacomb . Even the kitchen where several key scenes take place is utilitarian and cold.
The few times you see any warmth is in the bedroom of Macbeth and his wife. But this scene is bathed in a sickly red light, warm but bloody. Little touches like the listening devices planted in the castle or the huge soviet style poster of Macbeth hanging in the banquet hall add an extra layer to the visuals. Changing the character of Macbeth from a general turned king into a general turned dictator works well. His paranoia, guilt, and need to kill any that stand in his way fit many of the stories we've heard about petty leaders and their violent reigns eg.
Adolf Hitler. I also like the idea of having the three witches appear during the film in various disguises. First as nurses and later as cooks as well as servants. It feels like they are always watching and maybe manipulating events behind the scenes for their own amusement. It appears that some minor editing of the play has occurred here, but nothing too noticeable. The whole play flows well and moves along at a good pace, their was always something just waiting to happen so nothing was dragged.