Newly married to a rich industrialist, Katherine Lester (Florence Pugh) finds herself confined to the house and starved of companionship. Forced to spend her days in endless tedium, when her husband is called away to one of his collieries she begins a passionate and fiery relationship with a young groom from the estate, beginning a conflict with her stern and unforgiving family that will end in tragedy.
From the opening frames of Lady Macbeth, I could tell that director William Oldroyd knew what he was doing. The first couple of scenes in the movie are extremely diverting and those that went into the film expecting Shakespeare were proven wrong within those first few minutes.
It’s a film that is incredibly quiet too which is something that truly captivated me throughout. We spend the majority of the time with our characters merely gazing upon the expressions on their faces instead of hearing what they are thinking, which was so refreshing. That’s not to say that there is no dialogue in the film though, because there most certainly is, but it’s reserved to when it’s absolutely necessary. Whenever there is somebody talking in the film, it’s because it is something important.
Because of the bold decision to keep the majority of this movie extremely subdued, the film as a whole become so much more suspenseful, and it is also thanks to the incredible writing by Alice Birch. Her screenplay is marvellously thought-provoking and, while at times the film feels rather complex, she makes everything so much more interesting because of her characters. All of the characters here were ones that I wanted to learn more about, and we do learn a lot about some of them. While it would have been nice to learn more about characters such as Paul Hilton’s Alexander, we do spend a lot of the time with our leads and the development that is given to them is excellent.
The reason why I watched Lady Macbeth is because I am currently in the middle of a Florence Pugh movie marathon. This week alone I have watched so many of her films and I was eager to check this one out as it got a ton of praise from critics and even audiences, and yet again, she blew me away here. This is probably my third favorite performance of hers yet. Here, she portrays a character that is deeply layered and one that will keep you guessing who she really is until the final frame. To be honest with you, there were certain sequences in which Pugh can be heavily unnerving and unsettling to watch.
Also terrific in the film is Cosmo Jarvis who portrays Sebastian, a character that at first, I wasn’t sure what to think of. But as the story unfolded and I learned more about him, the better Jarvis’ performance became as a whole. There was one moment in particular during the third act where he has to show a ton of emotion and he sold the moment completely.
It also has a really terrific musical score from Dan Jones that propels the story along in the necessary ways, and has breathtaking cinematography from Ari Wegner. But perhaps the most impressive technical element to Lady Macbeth is its gorgeous costume design. It is obvious that it must have taken a lot of effort to make these costumes as stunning as they are and I have to commend the team that worked in that department as they did a fabulous job.
Lady Macbeth is a suspenseful and wisely quiet film that boasts breathtaking cinematography, excellent costume design, and terrific performances across the board.
Overall Grade: A
MPAA Rating: R for some disturbing violence, strong sexuality/nudity, and language
Cast: Florence Pugh, Cosmo Jarvis, Paul Hilton, Naomi Ackie, Christopher Fairbank
Directed by: William Oldroyd
Distributed by: Altitude Film Distribution
Running Time: 89 minutes