Lady Macbeth (2017)

Content by Tony Macklin. Originally published on July 28, 2017 @

If you want to see an ugly soap opera, Lady Macbeth is for you.

It's not my cup of bile. [Caveat: at the screening, the 3 reviewers with whom I saw the film all liked it.]

The film is based on a novella, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (1865), by Russian writer Nikolai Leskov. It's reset in the film to an estate in rural England in the mid-19th century.

The main character probably had more depth in the spacious soul of Russia.

The story is about Katherine (Florence Pugh). Her character evolves from an innocent, young bride, to a sexually-driven woman, to a cruel, reckless mistress of control.

Lady Macbeth is a collaboration of people new to film. It is director William Oldroyd's first feature. It is Alice Birch's initial screenplay. And it is only the second feature by 21-year old actress Florence Pugh.

Pugh is adequate as Katherine, but her role is superficial. She's 1/11th the performer that Tatiana Maslany is in television's Orphan Black. One can imaging what Maslany might have done with the role of Katherine, despite its limitations.

Much of Lady Macbeth is predictable and lacks depth. The first half of the film is steeped in absurdity, which on occasion is laughable. Then it turns nasty.

Recently I had to root for the apes against the human race, and now I had to root against my gender. The men in Lady Macbeth are creepy and worthy of dismissal. But Katherine is no bargain.

The only character with any brains is Katherine. She has little else. But she likes sex and fresh air. Katherine is Lady Macbeth lite.

Is that enough for characterization?

In a film of staleness and brutality, Lady Macbeth seems to think so.

© 2000-2018 Tony Macklin