“Lady Macbeth”: Film Review & Podcast

Posted: August 10th, 2017 | Filed under: Cinema, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Fortunately it matters not if you haven’t an inkling about the Shakespeare play, in which there is a Lady Macbeth as a major character.

William Oldroyd’s spare, dour but compelling film, “Lady Macbeth,” is not based on the Bard’s play, but on a Russian novel.

Since I’m one of those with no real knowledge about the most heralded playwright in the history of the English language, it was with more than a little relief that I was able to savor this completely different tale.

Mostly thanks to a truly commanding performance by Florence Pugh, as a bought bride in a loveless, abusive marriage in rural England in the 1860s.

Out of the blue — I had never heard of her before — here’s an astute young actress who dominates the screen and portrays Katherine with eerie confidence and nuance. Like some young — Dare I say it? — Meryl Streep.

Though we remain curious as to how her character came to be whom she is as the plot unfolds.

There is little back story.

At the denouement, we understand the true nature of Katherine, which is far different from first glimpse. But, given a paucity of context, we’re not sure where her instincts came from.

Though it really matters not, I’d love to know. But that missing piece doesn’t diminish the power of this little cinematic gem.

Her husband is older, an alcoholic and abusive. Among other things. His father, on whose estate they live in comfort, or such as it was among the landed gentry of the time, is similarly cranky and overbearing.

They go off on business or whatever. Which allows Katherine to open the windows for fresh air — literally and figuratively — and get out to walk the moors to the sea.

And take up openly with a stable hand, Sebastian, played by Cosmo Jarvis.

Father in law returns. Then hubby returns. Neither is pleased with the meretricious reputation Katherine has gotten, given her frolics.

At this point, Katherine displays some character traits we wouldn’t have guessed she possessed, even as abused psychologically as she has been in the marriage.

There’s no reason to reveal more of the plot. This is a film you should see, and I have no intention of spoiling it.

Just to say that what we suspect from the characters isn’t exactly what we get.

The answer to who is the most put upon changes as the plot twists unfold.

For further pithy observations, and a significantly more irreverent view, here’s my podcasted take on the film:

Audio MP3

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