Film Review: Lady Macbeth
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Directed by William Oldroyd and based on the novel Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District by Nikolai Leskov, Lady Macbeth is a darkly beautiful character study that wastes a powerful lead performance by Florence Pugh. Katherine (Pugh) is a young woman sold into marriage to a cruel older man called Alexander (Paul Hilton) who treats her horribly. He doesn’t let her leave the house and has no intention of consummating their marriage. While he’s away on business, Katherine initiates a passionate affair with stable-hand Sebastian (Cosmo Jarvis). Her infidelity leads to some dark, dangerous choices that will have a profound impact on the lives of everyone involved. Katherine makes for a fascinatingly complex main character. Her abusive, loveless marriage, physical confinement and sexual frustration make her easy to sympathise with and even root for early on. Pugh adds a cold, commanding presence to her that fits perfectly with the characterisation and it’s fair to say Katherine steals most of the scenes she’s in. Unfortunately, every other character is severely underwritten. Alexander and his father Boris (Christopher Fairbank) treat Katherine with nothing but extreme contempt in every single scene. It’s temporarily cathartic to see her turn the tables on them, but they’re so easy to hate that they’re just kind of boring.
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