Lady Macbeth (2016)
what a joke
Don't listen to the negative reviews
Although I seem to have had higher expectations than I thought, the movie is super entertaining.
In 19th-century rural England, a young bride who has been sold into marriage discovers an unstoppable desire within herself as she enters into an affair with a worker on her estate. Lady Macbeth is an overrated porn with way to many sex scenes and racism against black people rather than a good and well made film. The acting is terrible, the plot is terrible and the sex scenes are boring go and see something better. (0/10)
Within minutes, "Lady Macbeth" sets a familiar period romance stage: a very young woman in 19th century rural England is sold into marriage to a cold fish husband and an even nastier father-in-law and in her isolation begins an affair with the stable groom on the family estate. We immediately sympathize with Katherine (Florence Pugh) and her desire to claim some free will from the clutches of a stifling patriarchy - and then the film starts earning its Shakespearean title.Director William Oldroyd's meticulous period mies en scene and portrait-like framing of Katherine's life and her ill-advised romance suddenly begins to unravel at the edges with some pivotal choices that create a jarring incongruity of tones. In an assured feature film debut, Oldroyd chilling tries to maintain the film's quiet, poise and elegance amidst the story's growing chaos and darkness.Adapted from Nikolai Leskov's "Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk," a novella released during the film's time period, screenwriter Alice Birch's choice to tell this story in England emphasizes its Shakespearean qualities and makes it more palatable for Western audiences. The film earns its lofty title by depicting Katherine's slowly rising ambition as she works desperately to maintain their illicit romance with Sebastian (Cosmo Jarvis) and the freedom that accompanies it.Like any story aspiring to Shakespearean levels, "Lady Macbeth" has somewhat of a three-act structure, only the "acts" are tied loosely together by Katherine's character arc - the conflicts and problems established early on do not swell in the way traditional stories do due to Katherine's decisive actions that change her circumstances. For a 20-year-old actress, Pugh gets a rare opportunity to establish dramatic prowess and comes off remarkably beyond her years. She embodies the clash of poise and passion Oldroyd aims for, often staying composed in body and voice while the story goes off the rails.The film doesn't sell us on its central romance, but the romance elements do reveal themselves to be ancillary to the film's actual genre - crime drama. Little about Katherine and Sebastian's relationship pulls us deeply into their situation and makes us feel more deeply about the choices they must make, but the film does sell us on their desperation and why they might feel as though they must do anything for each other. What at the onset we're lead to believe is a film about doing "anything for love" turns out to be more about autonomy and liberation.Class therefore plays a big part of the movie, and more specifically the power dynamics that come with it. For the first several minutes, Katherine has no power. She appears to have no more right to do as she pleases than the servants on the estate, including her handmaiden, Anna (Naomi Ackie), who is black. When we see Katherine and Anna in a scene together, however, we watch Katherine exert her power as lady of the house and watch Anna struggle to take any action of her own volition, a privilege that her position does not allow her - and one Katherine takes for granted.These different class and power dynamics give Oldroyd an opportunity in the camera's framing. Cleverly, when a character moves out of the frame, rather than cutting to a new angle, he will maintain the existing shot and allow the character to break the frame. In a few key spots, this accentuates the class distinctions and highlights their critical role in how the story unfolds. Whereas Shakespeare was into doling out extreme consequences for extreme action, "Lady Macbeth" takes a different route with resolving the story's ever-mounting darkness that has its own chilling effect. It makes "Lady Macbeth" into a decisively more modern film in that it's more interested in choices than morals. The story's roots in the hallmarks of classic literature, however, do keep the plot rather simple and put more onus on Oldroyd to create something engaging and new out of familiar ideas. He does that to enough of an extent that "Lady Macbeth" deserves notice.~Steven CThanks for reading! Visit Movie Muse Reviews for more
In a 19th century English country estate, Katherine has been forced into a loveless marriage with Alexander Lester. He is unable to consummate the marriage. His father Boris is a strict ruthless businessman. While Alexander and Boris are away, the estate hands have stripped black housemaid Anna naked to be weighted like livestock. She has a passionate affair with the aggressive new groomsman Sebastian.This is great emotional and physical brutality throughout the movie. Sebastian is the classic bad boy and Katherine easily falls into him. She is more complicated than a heroine in distress. Florence Pugh delivers a performance beyond her age. There is so much stoic power and defiance in her. What she does with the chair made me laugh in disbelief. One expected a shrinking violet for her character at the start but she is much more delicious than that. She is a creature of beautiful ugliness.
"Lady Macbeth" is a British 1.5-hour film from 2016 and this is the first full feature film by director William Oldroyd. It is based on a novel from the 19th century and for writer Nikolai Leskov it is probably at this point the most known adaptation of one of his works. Said adaptation comes from Alice Birch and for her it is the first career effort too, so really a great deal of rookieism to this work and for that the outcome is surprisingly positive. A lot of that has to do with lead actress Florence Pugh who was apparently only 20 when this was made and from her great portrayal here, I am genuinely curious what the future brings. I am positive we can expect a lot of quality from her in the coming years, probably decades. Her looks aren't hurting either. She really gives a defining performance when it comes to period piece femme fatale characters. I am glad to see this movie already received a great deal of awards recognition since its release. Looking at the first showings abroad at film festivals, it took far too long for this film to finally reach Germany.A lot of what made this film so good is what happens below the surface: the subtlety, the hidden and the characters' shades make it a strong watch. It's tough for me to believe that neither the director nor the writer have come up with a full feature movie yet. Extremely positively surprised as a consequence. Now I want to talk a bit about the title of my review as this stroke me as one of the film's most important aspects and biggest strengths. Of course we don't know much about the character of Katherine early on, but the way she was thrown into this world that was entirely new to her speaks for itself. Discrimination, sexism and physical violence against weaker people are nothing out of the ordinary. And the more Katherine is confronted with all this abysmal stuff the more she turns evil herself. Her first killing is already not an act of self-defense at all, it is far more intentional than the second in fact, even if you can justify both to some extent from a psychological perspective, probably not a legal perspective. The second then is probably more gruesome, but also more of the moment and not really 100% planned. And well.. the infanticide? It shows pure evil as the victim is really 100% innocent, but I'll get to that later in detail. As for the contagion of evil, there always is a personal component to it and with the protagonist's love interest, that limit is reached when it comes to killing the kid as the guilt overwhelms him eventually and he has to let it all out, even if I somehow expected a suicide too. But he is the one who can be blamed the least. He may be boastful, but he is not rotten.And finally, another reference to the infanticide. It is the most shocking moment, but also perhaps the best moment because it shows how evil totally conquered her. Graphically. And with that I don't mean the face, but I mean the fact that the camera position is in a way where we basically see her black clothes only and almost nothing of her head and it looks like a black spirit creature kills the boy, the personification of evil. Sure that's free to interpretation too, but it is what I thought of that very moment. I also somewhat like films with realistic happy endings and I think from that perspective the film is a winner too because it did feel pretty authentic. Pay attention to how absolutely everybody is a loser here. Some died, some lost their privileges, some went to jail and the central character ends up alone, at least for a while and she said at one point she hates being/eating alone, so the cat may be the only company to stay for her at this instant. All in all, a good film with occasional moments of greatness. Yes it is sometimes tough to stomach, but without having read the book this is based on I would say here we have the prime example of a film that proves that there are actually strong novel adaptations out there if you just approach the matter open-minded instead of whining no no all films based on books suck. This one you really wanna see, a definite thumbs-up from me.