Lady Macbeth

series: Films
A review of the film Lady Macbeth

navigate: blogs | main site
tags: movie review; movies;

Lady Macbeth is a powerful piece of drama that makes no presumptions and offers no explanations. It instead asks you to make up your mind, to decide what is happening and why. Set in the days when women were owned and treated like property, the story follows the marriage of young Katherine, a woman of powerful self-indulgence who is not wedded to a much older man. Being the lady of the house, she is expected to act in all her capacity to uphold its honour.

Initially young and subservient, she soon finds herself alone as her husband takes no interest in her well being. She is ordered to stay indoors at all times. With nothing to do, she sits on the couch for prolonged periods of time, struggling to not fall asleep out of boredom. At nights, her husband makes her undress and face the wall, masturbating and denying her any form of intimacy.

She finds opportunity as her husband leaves on a business matter, and her father-in-law soon leaves as well. Finding the men of the staff tormenting a naked men one day, she faces the rough young groundsman and takes a fancy to him. He comes knocking at night, and overcoming her initial struggles, they give in to animalistic desires. This soon becomes a regular occurrence, and with each passing day, Katherine becomes bolder and bolder.

Their affair is found by her father-in-law, who canes the groundsman, and orders Katherine to never see him again. Instead, she kills him with a poisonous mushroom. Resuming their affair, the two lovers are interrupted once again by the arrival of her husband in the middle of the night. When confronted by her husband, she mounts her lover in his plain sight, and then kills him as he tries to strangle the other man who made him into a cuckold.

Things do not go well after that. The arrival of a ward, of colour, that was sired by her husband keeps her away from him. One day, the boy runs away and sits all day by a waterfall, and is found by the groundsman, who contemplates killing him. Instead, he saves the boy and takes him back to the house, where he is treated with contempt and reminded of his lowly status. That night, Katherine strangles the boy with a pillow while he holds the legs. They kill a child.

The next morning, on suspicion of foul play, the groundsman gives in and confesses to everything. Katherine denies and frames him and her maid. At the end, we see Katherine sitting on the same sofa, completely awake.

Florence Pugh, who plays Katherine, is simply extraordinary in the film. The direction is calm, and the editing and cinematography are well enough to capture the Victorian countryside. An adaptation of Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, the film pays homage to the theme and characters. Though the later half is changed, the film remains true to its powerful story. One thing that was beautiful to note was Katherine's dresses. At first, she wears a lively blue, overflowing with youth. As the story progresses, her dresses become gray at first, and then black, symbolising her descent.