Don’t be fooled by this period piece’s initial appearance. The costumes are pretty and the settings are hauntingly beautiful but this isn’t Jane Austen I assure you. I’d describe it more like Wuthering Heights meets Carrie. It’s an intriguing and chilling movie which is surprising on so many levels.
Here’s the plot: The movie is set in rural England in 1865 and the very young Katherine (Florence Pugh) has been sold by her father into a loveless marriage with a bitter and cold man who’s old enough to be her father. Between he and her cruel and heartless father in law Katherine is feeling trapped in her new home like a beautiful caged bird. She’s not without strong will though and we find out how strong it is after she meets and falls in love with the handsome and cocky groomsman, Sebastian (Cosmo Jarvis). None of the players in her life have any idea what the seeming innocent Katherine is capable of but they are soon to find out. She becomes a force that we have rarely seen in period pieces and she’s not willing to stop until she gets what she wants and what she wants is Sebastian.
Don’t confuse this story with the Shakespearean wife who encourages her husband to further her ambitions by killing a Scottish king. It’s actually based on a Russian story from 1865 about a discontented, and ultimately violent, young bride. Believe me this bride is not happy and she’s about to unleash havoc on everyone who she comes into contact with.
The young actress Florence Pugh who plays Katherine carries this movie with her incredibly chilling performance. Despite her understated performance, she gives you a glimpse now and then of what must be going on in that sweet heart shaped head of hers. She somehow is able to elicit our sympathy and our revulsion both at the same time. The actress who plays the black maid Anna (Naomi Ackie) is also a stand out among the performances. She is sole witness to Katherine’s transformation from the young, innocent bride to the incarnation of pure evil and she can’t comprehend it. Her performance will break your heart as you watch her crumble under the stress of the dark secrets she has to carry and the cruelty she has to endear because of her position in life.
This movie has all the elements of a classic. It examines many issues of the period, such as the huge inequality between men and women in the 1800’s, race, spousal abuse, class division, sexual frustration, and mental illness. Go see it and the next time you’re feeling trapped by your job or your challenging roles as a wife and a mother think about Katherine. On second thought maybe you shouldn’t think about Katherine.
LADY MACBETH will open on Friday Jul 21, 2017 at the following Theaters:
Magnolia located in Uptown 3699 McKinney Ave, Dallas, TX 75204
Angelika Film Center Plano The Shops at Legacy
Check listings for times.