Lady Macbeth(2017) Review

Murder has never been so seductive in Lady Macbeth
Director : William Oldroyd
Genre : Drama

Lady Macbeth is a British drama film, based on the novel Lady Macbeth of The Mtsensk District by Nikolai Leskov. The plot follows a young woman Katherine who is stifled by her loveless marriage to a bitter man twice her age. 

Murder Has Never Been So Seductive!

"Look like th' innocent flower, but be the serpent under 't." - Lady Macbeth[Act I Scene V(Macbeth)]
Shakespeare aficionados are all too aware that when it comes to the character of Lady Macbeth, we can conceive of nothing more tragic in his dramatization of the physical and psychologically damaging effects of political ambition on those who seek power for its own sake. Being a fan of the Bard myself, I have always been fascinated by the stormy dominant woman of the eleventh century equipped with the capricious lust for power, that triggers the events that ultimately leads to her downfall. The emotional subtlety with which her soul plays with passionate evil, and only to later suffer in profound torment, she is tragedy personified. It is actually disappointing that such a powerful force, who initiates the cataclysmic bloodbath by planting the seeds of regicide in her husband's mind, has a notable presence in just the first two acts, before being reduced to an uninvolved spectator. 

Imagine my excitement on knowing that finally, here comes a film having this intriguing character as the If you think William Oldroyd's Lady Macbeth is just a retelling of Shakespeare's shortest tragedy, but told from Lady Macbeth's point of view, than you'd be barely scratching the surface. While the original Lady M fails to ignore the devastating pangs of guilt that brings upon her own desolating end, watching our protagonist Katherine suppressing her instincts towards compassion, fragility and finally motherhood, all of which are associated with femininity, in favor of lust and ruthlessness can be unsettling to watch. If the original Lady Macbeth was a reflection of the gender based preconceptions of Shakespearean England, William Oldroyd impressively places his protagonist in a patriarchal 19th century England, where it's not uncommon for wives to be purchased along with a piece of land.
We're first introduced to Katherine played by actress Florence Pugh, trapped in a sexless marriage, that requires her to perform her everyday mundane roles, that are filled with such formalities that are typical of the aristocratic British way of life. It's very easy for us to sympathize with her character at first, as we see just how suffocating her life gets at the hands of the men in her household. When she begins to show the first signs of insolence to her tormentors, we root for her. However, what makes the film all the more uneasy to watch is the way with which it plays with the audience's opinion of her, as we see our anti-heroine committing one murderous act after another, and along the way, coolly disposing off pawns too weak to defend themselves. Before you know it, the same contempt we have for her enemies is replaced by our contempt for her.

Lady Macbeth relies on an intoxicating cocktail of sex and murder

For a subject material that relies on an intoxicating cocktail of sex and murder, debutante director William Oldroyd who has hitherto made a name for himself as a theater director, sticks to the bare boned approach that one comes to associate with plays. The cinematography by Ari Wegner is also aptly in sync with the director's restrained approach. And speaking of restraint, it's mesmerizing to see Florence Pugh, who happens to be just 19 years old in real life, give in such a restraint performance, and yet manage to convey the monster behind her demure facade. Not many actresses are able to keep their characters three-dimensional, but just two films old, Florence Pugh is becoming an actress to watch out for.

At less than 90 minutes and for those who like slow paced and depressing thrillers, Lady Macbeth is a truly horrifying experience with its insidious tale of victims turning into oppressors.

I'm going with 4/5.


  1. Definitely like to see this after reading your review


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