30th Aug2017

‘Lady Macbeth’ DVD Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Florence Pugh, Cosmo Jarvis, Paul Hilton, Naomi Ackie, Christopher Fairbank, Golda Rosheuvel, Bill Fellows, Ian Conningham | Written by Nikolai Leskov, Alice Birch | Directed by William Oldroyd

lady-macbeth

Anybody who had to do Macbeth at school know the enigmatic Lady Macbeth, and what her part was in the play. This version though, based on Nikolai Leskov’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk is not a tale of insanity, but of pure selfish evil.

In rural England 1865, Katherine (Florence Pugh) is stuck in her loveless marriage to a bitter man who holds no love for her. When he and his father leave her alone on the estate, she falls for a young worker Sabastian (Cosmo Jarvis). With the risk of her affair being revealed, what ends will she go to in order to protect herself?

The character of Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare’s play is interesting because of the downfall of her character. A plotter in the assassination of the king so that her husband can rise in power, she shows strength and a will to get the job done. This of course is a façade and she soon succumbs to insanity, taking her own life.

Calling the film Lady Macbeth, it hints that Katherine will show some similar traits to the classic character, and in some ways, she does. What she also shows though is a strength of will that is much deadlier than Shakespeare wrote. Katherine is very selfish, uncaring, and is willing to get rid of anybody who would get in her way. In fact, she is more Macbeth, then Lady Macbeth herself.

Sebastian the lover in many ways is more Lady Macbeth. He enjoys the fruits of Katherine’s actions and takes part in them, and of course this is out of love. What he lacks though is her psychotic nature, and his guilt over his actions leads to his downfall. Like many other characters in the film, he is just a toy for Katherine to enjoy, before she throws them away.

In many ways, Lady Macbeth feels like a Bronte story. We have the evil family who treat Katherine like she is nothing but another servant. We see scenes in which she is meant to sit subserviently and just be furnishing for the house. What the story lacks though is the good nature of Katherine herself. We see many times she is just as cold as her father in law and husband. The only person who matters in her eyes is her, and what she wants in life.

Lady Macbeth is an interesting and engrossing film because of the way it pulls you into the world of Katherine. Through the use of dark colours and a lack of music, there is a stillness to Katherine’s world, and a depressiveness that almost makes us understand what she is going through. If she showed any caring for the people around her who are also mistreated, then maybe we would have more empathy for her. The fact she has none reveals just who she is. She is the stronger side of Lady Macbeth, without the weakness that was Shakespeare’s character’s fatal flaw.

If you are looking for a good period drama that doesn’t play by the normal rules, then Lady Macbeth is for you. We may not agree with the character of Charlotte, but you can’t help but admire the strength she shows, even if she ruins the lives of the people around her without any remorse at all.

***** 5/5

Lady Macbeth is available in the UK on DVD and Blu-ray now.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek
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