‘She’s a disease…’
Not an origin story for the blood-washing, sleep-walking diva herself (which is a shame, as I’d totally watch that), but rather a low budget, period piece that gifted the world Florence Pugh. This is the perfect example of what I’m increasingly starting to think of as a ‘lockdown film’. A movie that I never would have gotten around to watching if not for the sudden influx of spare time on my hands. Man cannot survive on Mario Kart alone, after all.
Katherine (Florence Pugh) is a wilful and free spirited young maid who is married off to Alexander Lester (Paul Hilton), a bitter man, twice her age. Katherine soon succumbs to her innermost desires in the shape of farmhand Sebastian (Cosmo Jarvis).
Based on that synopsis, you might mistakenly classify Lady Macbeth as a typical, dusty period romance. It isn’t that. This is a lust story, not a love story. A twisted character study of ambition, power and ruthlessness. It’s easy to see how this film launched the career of Florence Pugh, who has a wonderful time as a drunken, murderous floozy, and her costars also shine, with the spectacularly named Cosmo Jarvis quietly impressive as her paramour and lover Sebastian.
First time director William Oldroyd captures the isolation and desperation of a woman sold into marriage through the beautifully bleak Northumberland countryside, and the barren stately manor in which the Lester family reside. It is testament to Pugh that she is just as much at home here as she was playing an undercover spy in Little Drummer Boy or Amy March in Little Women. She has moved beyond being one to watch and into the kind of territory where gold statues and Academy awards are surely not far away.
Lady Macbeth is more than just a springboard for the Florence Pugh, however. This is a salacious and chilling story, confidently delivered and perfectly executed. Much like some of the characters…