I saw the trailer for this once before seeing The Beguiled and couldn’t help but think that there was something mesmerizing about the film. Maybe it was the catatonic and hard stare from relative newcomer, Florence Pugh. Or the fact that I was craving a fine historical period piece. When things pan out like that its always nice. After watching Lady Macbeth, I am quite content with the film. Its not perfect and the characters are quite despicable but the film evoked a strong reaction at least, which is good.
The film follows the life of a lady of the house named Katherine Lester. She’s in a loveless marriage with a Lord. He goes away for a period of time, and in that time she conjures up a sexual relationship with a man who stays at the outhouse named Sebastian. When news of their affair gets out both parties become murderously complicit in grizzly acts all to protect their secret. The film is set in late 1800 rural England as well. The first thing that comes to mind is that it is a fictitious period drama that is more erotic in nature than contemporary films.
The film also draws parallels to Lady Macbeth. Lady Macbeth gains power through her husband and becomes complicit in a murderous rampage of tyranny against those who oppose her and try to take away her title. In a similar way Katherine is determined to hide her affair. Things go to far though and her character unravels.She’s not an innocent character at all but vile, cold, and with psychopathic tendencies. No one in this film bar the maid is enviable or identifiable as they are all on the lower rungs of humanity.
That is not a bad thing. Its nice to see a film where the lead isn’t a proper Lady but only in appearance. She’s quite treacherous beyond her beauty and will sell anything out just to save her own skin. Florence Pugh was very convincing in this role and I expect to see more of her in the future. Overall, the film suffers slow pacing and does lack focus but the set + costume design and the wickedness of the characters keep the film going. Its worth a watch.