LADY MACBETH – A Review by Cynthia Flores
The film Lady Macbeth has nothing to do with Shakespeare or the play whose name you do not say in a theater because it’s bad luck. It does however give a nod to the murderous lady of Shakespeare's infamous play. This is the director's first try at film having come from directing theater productions. He filmed this amazing movie in only twenty-four days. I can hardly wait to see what he can do with a big budget film if he can create such a stunning debut movie on such a tight schedule.
To say the film is stunningly beautiful to watch would be an understatement. It takes place in Rural England, 1865. We meet young Katherine (Florence Pugh), when she’s being wed to a bitter man Alexander (Paul Hilton), twice her age, whose father Boris (Christopher Fairbank), is mean, cold, and unforgiving.
You feel nothing but sympathy for Katherine as she’s every bit the young inexperienced girl being dressed up for her wedding night by her maid Anna (Naomi Ackie), who asks her if she is scared, to which she calmly states, “No”. The first third of the film shows how isolated Katherine is forced to be. She's dressed up like a doll in her matronly looking clothes with nothing to do, being kept cooped up inside, and no one to really talk with. Even her husband seems bothered by her presence and avoided her even in the bedroom. Katherine is bored into a stupor of sorts where one day grudgingly bleeds into the next.
When Alexander leaves to take care of business her father-in-law Boris tells her that he must go to London as well. He lets her know that she’ll have to get on alone for an indefinite amount of time. This is great for her because finally she gets a chance to taste a little freedom in her new role as wife of the estate. She goes for long walks out amongst the moors and wildness that surrounds the property. You sense that she's still part wild herself.
The movie takes a turn when one day Katherine discovers Anna in the barn suspended from the ground, being weighed in a sack naked, by the men who work on the land. It’s implied that worse would have gone on if Kathrine had not put a stop to it. She’s attracted to one of the workers her own age, Sebastian (Cosmo Jarvis), and the next day deliberately encounters him on the land during one of her walks. Flirting with him as she walks past.
Without giving too much away Katherine and Sebastian begin a torrid affair that becomes the obsession that costs people their lives.
I won’t do spoilers here but I will tell you that it’s amazing to watch Kathrine, unstoppable in her desire of Sebastian, willing to do anything to keep him. They say it's easy to kill another human being; it's just hard to live with their blood on your hands afterwards. This film masterfully shows the extremes people will go to have what they want. It also shows the cost of such extremes on the psyches of those involved.
Lady Macbeth is not for people that need to have fast camera work or an edit cut every three to four seconds. It's not for people that need to have a soundtrack or song to every scene to tell them how to feel. In fact, there’s no soundtrack or score to this great movie at all, only the sounds of the house, people around them, or the noise of nature on the wind. The movie is so engrossing that you don’t miss the soundtrack at all.
What there is in this film is great directing and incredible acting that keeps you on the edge of your seat till the very end. Lady Macbeth is a must see film that will be talked about come award season.
Directed by William Oldroyd
Written By Nikolai Leskov (based on Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk), Alice Birch
Selig Rating A
Running Time 129 min
Starring: Florence Pugh, Cosmo Jarvis, Paul Hilton, Christopher Fairbank, Naomi Ackie, Golda Rosheuvel, Anton Palmer