Rated: R for some disturbing violence, strong sexuality/nudity, and language. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: July 14, 2017 Released by: Roadside Attractions
British theatre director William Oldroyd brings much atmosphere and edge to Victorian 19th Century rural England in this increasingly striking (as well as manageable) costume drama which feeds off of race and class.
Lady Macbeth isn't drawn from the Bard, but Alice Birch's sentient, intricate screenplay from Nikolai Leskov's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk really gives young actress Florence Pugh a chance to shine through charming impishness and later implacable ruthlessness.
An early unassertiveness (with much pondering in what the designs are for her) in an arranged loveless marriage to a much older Alexander (Paul Hilton) in the mining business with domineering, abusive father and landowner Boris (Christopher Fairbank). Naomi Ackie as Anna the maid who straps Katherine into her corset daily and Cosmo Jarvis as the estate's young hired hand Sebastian figures into the tension; the latter prominently after an important trip taken by father and son.
From the stifling etiolated existence a dark Gothic romance brews with a horror (if horrific angle) on feminism and women's rights in a masterly minimalistic approach with subtle intelligence in a production with lengthy takes and little if any music (mainly naturalistic sounds).
The transformative austerity of Katherine on so many levels is in sync with Oldroyd's gritty tone plumbing her psychological landscape and moral relativism. In ways that Pugh's sharply surveys like a young protégé of Oscar winners like Judi Dench, Cate Blanchett and Kate Winslet. Lessening of space and the lush countryside so vividly captured on celluloid adds to a riveting Lady Macbeth which would impress the Bard after all in its nuanced look into societal mores (think of the sensitivity depicted, for example, not long ago in Belle), especially in perceptions of varying relations.