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Coming Soon

Lady Macbeth

Opens 7/21/2017
Coming to:   Camera 3 Downtown

Director: William Oldroyd

Cast: Florence Pugh, Cosmos Jarvis, Naomi Ackie, Bill Fellows, Christopher Fairbank

Synopsis: Rural England, 1865. Katherine (Florence Pugh) is stifled by her loveless marriage to a bitter man twice her age, and his cold, unforgiving family. When she embarks on a passionate affair with a young worker on her husband's estate, a force is unleashed inside her so powerful that she will stop at nothing to get what she wants. "Florence Pugh announces herself as a major talent to watch in impressively tough-minded Victorian tragedy."--Variety

Running Time: 90 Minutes
(plus 8-10 minutes of trailers)

Official Web Site:

MPAA Rating: R

No free passes or daily deals, but discount cards o.k.


Extraoridinary, brilliantly feminist indie film

By Cath Clarke

This brilliantly feminist British indie film plunges a cold, sharp knife into the back of bonnet dramas. ‘Lady Macbeth’ is like a Jane Austen story with a dash of sex and murder and a nineteenth-century heroine who might have swallowed the works of Caitlin Moran and Gloria Steinem.

Confusingly, it’s got nothing to do with Shakespeare. The script, by playwright Alice Birch, is adapted from an 1860s Russian novel by Nikolai Leskov, ‘Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District’, and it was shot by theatre director William Oldroyd. The pair relocate the book to Victorian England where Florence Pugh (the spit of a young Kate Winslet) plays Katherine, a teenager in northern England whose father has married her off to a rich miner’s son. Humiliatingly, she is part of a two-for-one deal, thrown in with a plot of land. Worse, her husband (Paul Hilton) is a seething mess of pathetic inadequacies.

This is a pure feminist parable. We watch as her maid, Anna (Naomi Ackie), yanks Katherine’s corset ribbons agonisingly tight. And just as the patriarchy is deforming her body, so too it is twisting her soul. When her husband leaves the family pile on business, Katherine ends up in bed with a cocky servant (indie singer Cosmo Jarvis). A killing spree follows.

Newcomer Florence Pugh is like a lightning bolt, totally electric as Katherine, who’s up there with Madame Bovary or Anna Karenina in the literary heroine stakes. She has the innocent face of an angel but she soon begins to live up to her Shakespearean namesake. And like Amma Asante’s ‘Belle’ and Tom Hardy’s ‘Taboo’, ‘Lady Macbeth’ is part of a new generation of British film and TV showing us that Britain’s diversity didn’t begin with the Windrush. The stable boy and Katherine’s maid are both mixed race – which adds another layer of complexity and shows up toxic class divisions. What an extraordinary film.

Copyright 2017 Time Out London

Florence Pugh announces herself as a major talent to watch in William Oldroyd's impressively tough-minded Victorian tragedy

By Guy Lodge, Variety

Shakespeare’s conniving Queen of Scotland is nowhere to be found in it, but a whole lot of courage gets screwed to the sticking place in “Lady Macbeth.” An impressively stark, narratively ruthless Victorian chamber piece that feels about as modern as its crinolines will permit, William Oldroyd’s pristine debut feature slowly reveals a violent moral ambiguity that needles the mind far longer than its polite period-piece trappings suggest. This disquieting drama of an arranged marriage gone drastically awry may come to be most remembered, however, as the film that gave 19-year-old Florence Pugh her first leading-lady showcase: Fully realizing the promise of earlier, smaller parts, the British actress impresses with precocious poise, sensuality and venom in a still-waters role just about worthy of the film’s eponymous inspiration. Though the film’s austere outlook compromises its commercial appeal to the Masterpiece Theater crowd, it has the makings of a more rarefied arthouse conversation piece.

Shrewdly adapted (and anglicised) by first-time scribe Alice Birch from Russian writer Nikolai Leskov’s 1865 novella “Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk,” “Lady Macbeth” will throw any viewers who approach it seeking overt allusions or parallels to the Scottish Play. The corruption of its characters emerges gradually, in pursuit not of power but of sexual freedom — a kind of power in itself, of course, not least for women still bound to the gender hierarchy of 19th-century England.

In 1865, on an anonymous stretch of farmland streaked in shades of moss and mud, teenage bride Katherine (Pugh) has barely any human liberties left to call her own. To the menfolk in her life, she is quite literally a commodity: Sold by her father, in a package deal with a bonus patch of land, to elderly colliery magnate Boris (Christopher Fairbank), she’s forced into nuptials to Boris’s glumly unprepossessing, middle-aged son Alexander (Paul Hilton). Birch’s script and Nick Emerson’s economical editing establish the terms of this trap in quick, calm strokes: We’re swiftly taken to the conjugal bed, where Alexander — who seems no keener on the arrangement than she — is unable to consummate the marriage.

Like a captive princess in a particularly dour fairytale, Katherine is instructed by her brusque husband and brusquer father-in-law to remain indoors, attending to what limited wifely duties their ample staff of servants (including her impassive handmaid Anna, excellently played with a half-sympathetic, half-critical eye by Naomi Ackie) don’t cover. Her growing sense of empty frustration is sharply complemented by Jacqueline Abrahams’ production design, which foregoes “Downton Abbey” opulence for a coldly rustic, half-finished puritanism. All blank walls, dark wood and frayed edges, with a bile-hued couch the brightest detail, the otherwise gracious mansion perfectly reflects the amount of living that has been done in it.

When both Boris and Alexander are called away on business, however, Katherine crosses paths with cocksure groomsman James (impressively brooding musician-turned-actor Cosmo Jarvis) and experiences an unfamiliar frisson of actual feeling. The connection is mutual, and it’s not long before the two are treating the marital mattress to some unfamiliar action. But as familiar as this setup seems, no amount of hoary lady-and-the-stable-boy Harlequin romances will have prepared viewers for the cool-blooded turns this cross-class romance is about to take, as Katherine goes to increasingly untenable lengths to protect her newfound fulfilment.

At one level an extreme, unflinching feminist cautionary tale about the ultimate perils of chauvinistically containing or instructing a woman’s desires and impulses, “Lady Macbeth” also works as a fascinatingly inverted character study — wherein continued abuse and silencing gradually makes an oppressor of a victim.

It’s a fine-line exercise that requires an actress both commanding and sympathetic enough to pull it off: Pugh, hitherto best known for her small but crucially vivid turn as a charismatic schoolgirl in Carol Morley’s U.K. arthouse hit “The Falling,” doesn’t miss a note of Katherine’s complex, under-the-skin transformation. A child still getting to grips with the womanhood she had unwillingly thrust upon her, let alone the challenging, primal moral transgressions she has made in the name of independence, she’s a whirl of petulance and more mature anger, of confusion and seductive self-possession. Pugh folds these contradictions into one composed, consistent characterization, her smoothly expressive face giving us all the text between the lines of her spare dialogue.

Yet while Katherine is front and center in “Lady Macbeth,” Oldroyd’s film is quietly attuned to the separate social crises and prejudices faced by its secondary characters. That no overt mention is made on screen on Sebastian and Anna’s race — both are black —it turns out to be a resonant detail as Katherine exploits their disenfranchisement to shore up her own fragile status. As such, Oldroyd’s film winds up joining Amma Asante’s “Belle” in the limited pantheon of films to address racial relations in the old British gentry; like Andrea Arnold’s revisionist “Wuthering Heights,” however, it does so entirely tacitly.

Arnold’s fearless twist on heritage cinema comes to mind several times, in fact, during “Lady Macbeth.” Both films share a blunt, angular modernity in their approach to corset drama, with Ari Wegner’s clean, crisp widescreen lensing not adding a hint of old-world lacquer to the Victorian setting: Its sagebrush colors and symmetrical compositions still appear edged with this morning’s frost. Costume designer Holly Waddington contributes to the general air of disciplined realism with a selective, regularly recycled wardrobe: Katherine’s favorite peacock-blue gown, impressively regal at first sight, appropriately looks a little more sullied each time it reappears.

Copyright 2017 variety


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