Directed by: William Oldroyd
Written By: Alice Birch
Based on the book “ LADY MACBETH OF MTSENSK” by Nikolai Leskov Cinematography: Ari Wegner
Editor: Nick Emerson
Cast: Florence Pugh, Cosmo Jarvis, Paul Hilton, Naomi Ackie, Christopher Fairbank, Golda Roseuval, Anton Palmer, Bill Fellows
Rural England, 1865. Katherine is stifled by her loveless marriage to a bitter man twice her age, whose family are cold and unforgiving. When she embarks on a passionate affair with a young worker on her husband’s estate, a force is unleashed inside her, so powerful that she will stop at nothing to get what she wants.
This movie features Florence Pugh in a star making performance and also one of the all time great cold femme fatales on screen.
The title makes you believe this Will be a take on Shakespeare’s Play. Only focusing on one main character from their point of view, but this is based on “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk” by Nikolai Leskov
That might have served as inspiration for the play and the title just happens to deal with the same machinations, manipulations, and themes as that character and play
Though some will see this from a modern context of a female asserting herself in a suppressed time. That she is sticking up for herself and choosing to use her strengths and power. As after all she comes off as a mastermind even though motivated more by being dumb in love. If she wasn’t so selfish she might have been a strong female role model. Though she might still end up being one to some audience members
The film allows us to see how she comes upon her decisions. How as soon as she gets there she is mistreated by her husband who refuses to actually consummate the marriage and then disappears leaving her feeling bored and degraded. Even when not suffering the disdain of her father in law.
Once she spies the help trying to sexually assault her handmaiden and sticks up for her she feels an attraction and passion for the
Young field worker who originated it and begins to flirt with him until he comes to her bedroom And is aggressive with her and she fights back but also accepts his demands. Once started the affair intensified and anything or anyone who stands in the way she is willing to sacrifice.
She does so coldly, but to a certain extent, you can understand why. Until the third act when she goes to far. Even shocking the audience as well as her lover.
Throughout it is easy to not feel sorry for the male characters in her life. They don’t necessarily deserve death, but they are also not the most sympathetic characters. The film also makes it seem like the lover will eventually use her but in the end. He is more a pawn as she loves him And tries to prop him Up as more respectable. Though he can be expendable if he chooses to betray or cross her.
The most sympathetic character is her handmaiden Anna, who witnesses everything and goes mute from shock. While still being made to serve her and seemingly punished by her from time to time. What she is put through and where she ends up is just cruel. It’s Disappointing though not shocking.
Since the character is African American she more seems like a slave so watching her being mistreated is not all that shocking and while it’s nice to see people of color in the film. While being historically accurate it does get on the nerves or brings the audience to a dark place to be reminded of this time In history. Especially as in the end classism And racism stand supreme. Even when the one who so thought to be more privileged is the one who has done the worst and should have a bad reputation
The film also manages to be quite sexual though not quite erotic.
The film is quite a surprise from what you might think the film will be about or go to. It is actually richer even if also more cerebral and remote, with beautiful backgrounds.
I really enjoy this film and am only recently becoming a bit of a fan of period pieces.