Director / William Oldroyd (Feature film debut)
Stars/ Florence Pugh, Paul Hilton, Cosmo Jarvis, Naomi Ackie and Christopher Fairbank
Make no mistake, LADY MACBETH bears no resemblance to any work associated to William Shakespeare. Based on the 1865 Russian novella, Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District by Nikolai Leskov, the only reference from this film that could be made to the namesake character created by Shakespeare is of a purely symbolic nature.
Set in rural England in 1865, the film opens as 17 year old Katherine (Florence Pugh) is forced into marriage with the older Alexander (Paul Hilton). Katherine, who loves the outdoors, doesn’t so easily accept her husband’s wishes to be his subordinate, after he orders her to remain locked indoors at all times. When Alexander leaves his estate for several weeks to attend to a business emergency, the rebellious and free-spirited Katherine begins a dangerous affair with a young man working at the estate, Sebastian (Cosmo Jarvis).
Courtesy of its remarkable and transformative lead female character, LADY MACBETH turns the period drama genre on its head in near flawless fashion.
Lady Katherine isn’t just the stand-out character in this sublime film, it is one of the most conceivably written, daring and exciting transitions of any character we’ve seen in recent years. Immediately upon moving into her new residence with her husband, Katherine recognises the misogynist she has married and the submissive life that she’s contractually obliged to fulfil. Rather than succumbing to her dreadful fate, Katherine fights back. Almost every command ordered at her is answered in return with wilful disobedience. Any expectations that existed prior to her arrival are now met with contemptuous disregard and are dead and buried. With each bout of resistance she sends forth, Katherine is brimming in confidence. Anyone who dares to throw a conventional line her way will become her bait! As delicious as this is to witness, audiences are very much aware that Katherine’s recklessness is going to have its consequences.
This is an outstanding feature-film directional debut from William Oldroyd, who has collected seven of the eleven award wins LADY MACBETH has so far received. He unearths a scintillating performance from his star, Florence Pugh (who has won the remaining four awards), in what truly is a breakout performance in every sense of the word. It is a display of acting that will not be forgotten in a film that produces fierce, fearless and electrifying drama. Make no mistake, LADY MACBETH is an unmissable film.
4 ½ stars
Viewer Discretion/ MA15+ (strong sex scenes and coarse language)
Trailer / LADY MACBETH
Moviedoc thanks Sharmill Films for the invite to the screening of this film..
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