Lady Macbeth (2017)

Cast includes: Florence Pugh (The Falling), Cosmo Jarvis (The Naughty Room), Naomi Ackie (Doctor Who), Christopher Fairbanks (Alien 3)
Director: William Oldroyd (Best, In Mid Wickedness)
Genre: Drama (89 minutes) Based on “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk” by Alice Birch


Huffington Post

The young bride does her best to stay focused during the church wedding, but it all seems so strange… even mystical. Afterward in the large, austere house, Anna helps her into her nightdress and asks, “Are you cold?” “No.” “Are you nervous?” “No.” When her husband comes into the bedchamber, he asks, “Are you comfortable?” “Yes sir.” “You’ll find there can be a draft. It’s best to keep to the house.” When Katherine says she likes fresh air, he ends the discussion. “Take it off… your nightdress.” He looks at her and goes to bed. The next day, after being groomed and dressed, Katherine sits alone on the settee all day. Noticing the young girl’s boredom at the end of the day, Mr. Lester Sr. says, “You will wait up for your husband, Mrs. Lester.” When her husband finally arrives, he is as cold as before. “No need to stare at me! Stand! Stop smiling! Take your nightdress off! Face the wall!” He then pleasures himself by himself. The next day, he’s gone. “Away,” is all Mr. Lester Sr. wants to tell her, as he gets ready to leave for London. “When your husband returns, you can resume your duties with more rigor, Madam.”

With both Lester men away, Katherine is now free to do as she pleases (within limits). She opens windows and even goes for walks on the moor. When she hears loud noises from the barn, she goes out to find the farm hands aggressively tormenting Anna. She has them release the maid and scorns them… but not without noticing the new groomsman, Sebastian. He notices her, too… when he later comes to her room, she fights him off at first, but soon submits to the passion she, too, is feeling. The strange thing about this remote English community is that the land seems to have eyes and ears. With no one in sight, rumors fly at record speed. When Lester Sr. returns, he notices the change in Katherine’s demeanor right away… confirming what he’s heard. Noting the “decline in her health” is due to the time she has spent outdoors, he insists she spend her time indoors instead… “More solitude and reflection.” He then finds Sebastian and beats him to within an inch of his life. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Lester Sr. is dead, and Katherine is free to bring Sebastian back to her bed.

The story has several unexpected turns, but the one common denominator is that people who get in Katherine’s way seem to disappear or turn up dead. Of course, we might have guessed that, given the name of the movie. By the end, we find that Katherine has changed from a sympathetic teenage bride to a stoic monster. Clearly, the social pressures on young women of the era would leave few opportunities for living a satisfying life, and the sheltered existence would afford scant information for weighing options. Yet Katherine’s go-to option seems to be murder. Florence Pugh is chilling as the amoral murderer. The script and production, however, feel less than fully worked out… possibly leaving moviegoers with unanswered questions. Sebastian has questions, too. When he asks Katherine, “You did it for us?” she answers, “We did it!” … a collaboration that somehow feels hollow.

popcorn rating

2 popped kernels

A child bride with a severe, repressive husband takes a lover and resorts to murder to keep him

Popcorn Profile

Rated: R (Nudity, Violence, Sexual Content)
Audience: Grown-ups
Gender Style: Neutral
Distribution: Art House
Mood: Sober
Tempo: Cruises Comfortably
Visual Style: High-End Production
Nutshell: Lady murderer
Language: True to life

Social Significance: Thought Provoking

Comments welcome

Join our email list




©2017, Leslie Sisman | Design, website and content by Leslie Sisman