Lady Macbeth (7/10)
by Tony Medley
Runtime 89 minutes
Maybe I missed it,
but I never knew when or where this story took place, so I’m going to
tell you. It’s set in England in 1865. That might clear things up for
you as you watch it.
A 17 year old
teenager, Katherine (Florence Pugh), is sold along with some real estate
to 70-year-old Boris (Christopher Fairbank) as a wife for Boris’s 40
year old son, Alexander (Paul Hilton). The movie starts out on their
wedding day, and it’s dour, to say the least. Alexander is a hateful
creep, and that makes him a chip off the old block.
What follows is a
weird coming of age story for Katherine as she is entrapped in an old
house by the two old men and told to “do her duty as a wife” and stay
inside. Her only company is a servant, Anna (Naomie Ackie), who plays a
pivotal role in what follows.
disagreeable men leave the estate for a few weeks, Katherine takes
advantage of new found freedom and quickly becomes involved with a wild
worker, Sebastian (Cosmo Jarvis), a 22 year old who steals Katherine’s
Things go from bad to
worse, as the name of the film implies might happen. This could even be
considered as a unique film noir, because it has most of the
The film is directed
by William Oldroyd from a script by Alice Birch and is based on an 1865
Russian novel, “Lady Macbeth of the Misensk” by Nikolai Leskov.
Dealing with themes
like the subordination of women, life in the outskirts of society, and
illicit sex, it was published by Dostoyevsky and adapted into a Russian
opera by Shostakovich in the ‘30s. It was immediately banned by Stalin
for being “too subversive.”
I haven’t read the
novella and certainly haven’t seen the opera, but the movie is well done
with some fine twists.