By: Nick Ferwerda
Set in the 19th century, Lady Macbeth follows the story of Katherine (Florence Pugh), a young middle-aged woman who is bought and sold into marriage. She ends up in a loveless and violent relationship with Alexander (Paul Hilton). Stuck against her will in a large home with nothing to do, Katherine grows tired. She dreams of being free again, but starts to realize that may never happen again.
Alexander leaves for a business trip, and Katherine decides to rebel against her husband. She quickly develops an emotional, sexual, and fulfilling relationship with someone who works at the house. The bond escalates until the two are forced to do things they would’ve never dreamed about doing.
Lady Macbeth’s 89-minute runtime is intriguing. Usually a movie of this caliber would break the two-hour mark. However, I actually wish Lady Macbeth was longer. The clipped film doesn’t allow director William Oldroyd and screenwriter Alice Birch to fully cover backstories – an absence of detail is noticeable.
Otherwise, Lady Macbeth is very impressive. Oldroyd and his DoP Ari Wegner create a visually spectacular albeit accurate 19th century. Although this film is based on the classic novella by Nikolai Leskov, the movie manages to find its own identity while also following the path of the source material. Florence Pugh is an absolute genius as Katherine – her range and transformation is nothing short of incredible. Her supporting cast is very strong as well, with Cosmo Jarvis (The Naughty Room) standing out in particular.
Lady Macbeth is a compelling piece of cinema. You have no idea how much I wanted to keep watching more of this movie.
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Nick Ferwerda: @NickFerwerda