Film Review – Lady Macbeth (2016)

Title – Lady Macbeth (2016)

Director – William Oldroyd (feature debut)

Cast – Florence Pugh, Cosmo Jarvis, Paul Hilton, Naomi Ackie

Plot – In rural England of 1865 teenage girl Katherine (Pugh) finds herself married off to the much older and bitter Alexander Lester (Hilton) but finds love in an affair she enters into with farmhand Sebastian (Jarvis) setting the lovers on a course of potentially life endangering consequences.  

“My father bought you along with a piece of land not fit enough for a cow to graze upon”

Review by Eddie on 13/12/17

Need some further proof that Britain can make some of the glummest and clouded in foreboding features? Then feast your eyes on debut filmmaker William Oldroyd’s adaption of Nikolai Leskov 1865 novel.

Not to be confused with anything from the revered works of William Shakespeare, Lady Macbeth is one of 2017’s grimmest and grimiest events, anchored by a star making turn from its leading lady Florence Pugh, who will likely look back on Oldroyd’s film in years to come as the defining role of her sure to be impressive career.

Centred around Pugh’s young girl Katherine, who in 19th century England finds herself sold into a loveless marriage to Paul Hilton’s well-off Alexander Lester, only to find her husband is prone too long sojourns away from the homestead giving Katherine ample time to start a relationship with Cosmo Jarvis’s farm hand Sebastian that leads down a dark and foreboding morally dubious staircase of lies, deceit and murder.

Oldroyd delivers the tale in an impressively non-cinematic way, actors leading the charge with Oldroyd’s camera remaining largely unobtrusive as we sit back and watch this tale unfold in a deliberately paced fashion, Katherine’s life filled with both the joys of experiencing true love for the first time and the harsh realities of living a life that is founded on some utterly despicable decisions.

These decisions that Katherine finds herself enacting upon are what make Lady Macbeth such a harsh and unrelenting experience and one that will also divide viewers into factions that believe Katherine’s choices are warranted and necessary, while others will find Pugh’s creation a vile and self-centred horror.

Finding myself somewhat in the middle-ground, it’s hard to completely justify Katherine’s moral journey as Oldroyd’s tale trudges on, culminating in one of the year’s most shocking and confronting finales, that will be cause for much debate in the years to come.

Final Say –

Make no mistake, Lady Macbeth is grim stuff, about as grim as they come but Oldroyd’s impressive debut features a star making turn from Pugh that makes this often hard to watch and hard to agree with journey of the loss of innocence of one particularly unfortunate soul worth your time, even if your unlikely to enjoy yourself along the way.

3 mute housemaids out of 5  

4 responses to “Film Review – Lady Macbeth (2016)

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