If you saw the title of this film and thought this was a rendition of the Shakespeare play then you’re just as wrong as I was. It’s darker than that. Lady Macbeth tells the story about a young woman stuck in a loveless marriage in 1865 in rural England. She soon finds herself in a passionate love affair with a man lower than her station. The cast includes Florence Pugh, Cosmo Jarvis, Naomi Ackle, Christopher Fairbank, and Paul Hilton.
Even though the film is about 90 minutes, there are times when it feels like time is dragging on. I imagine that was William Oldroyd’s intention as the director. It’s clear that early on in the film Pugh’s character, Katherine, is meant to be seen and not heard. The days drag on as she is not allowed to step outside and her husband has no interest in her.
The first aspect to note about this film is the cinematography. It really paints what isn’t said in the film. Especially in the way Katherine silently screams every time one of her male superiors demands a task from her. Katherine’s loneliness is captured on screen with tragic beauty. There were also a lot of greyish hues to portray the dark tone the film takes. The costume design in this film is something to commend as well. In the film, we see an evolution of Katherine’s character. She starts off as an innocent woman then evolves into a conniving game master. The first dress we see her in is a nice blue then the last dress Katherine wears is black.
The acting in the film is excellent. Florence Pugh’s performance portrays Katherine’s downward spiral with enough elegance to make the whole crowd uncomfortable (in the good way). Cosmo Jarvis even shows the change in his character from a lustful man to a regretful one. The standout performance to me was Naomi Ackle’s performance as Katherine’s maid, Anna. She makes the audience feel sympathetic to the bad situations that she finds herself in due to her place in the house.
This was not my first period drama. I watched Downton Abbey during its seven seasons and I’ve seen the many renditions of Pride and Prejudice. When I walked into the theater, I thought I was prepared for what the film had to offer. I was wrong. Again.
Lady Macbeth was dark in more ways than I thought possible. It brings up the constant question of morality and how far people are willing to go to get what they want. There is sympathy to be had for Katherine as a young girl to be married off to a complete stranger. She is essentially powerless when she is in her husband’s presence. Katherine finally gets her first taste of freedom when her husband and father-in-law go away on business. That’s when she comes across her lover, Sebastian, portrayed by Cosmo Jarvis. Although resistant at first, she falls in love with him and does anything she can to stay with him. It’s the freedom she wants, but the power she becomes addicted to.
I enjoyed this film for what it was: a dark period drama. There were a lot of points that I found myself surprised at the choices Katherine made. It isn’t the traditional protagonist versus antagonist story. The film will continue to have you thinking about it long after you leave the theater.
|Lady Macbeth (2017)|