SATURDAY, 14 OCTOBER – 7.30pm
2016 | UK | Drama | Directed by William Oldroyd. Starring Florence Pugh, Cosmo Jarvis, Christopher Fairbank. 89 min. Rated 15.
To be clear, this isn’t Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth. Also, it isn’t like any period drama you’ve seen, thanks to a talented trio of first-timers who tell one headstrong woman’s story in a unique way. Not to mention with a micro-budget of £350,000.
A thrilling 19th-century tragedy and one of the most exciting discoveries of last year’s London Film Festival, British director William Oldroyd’s exceptional debut stars the luminous Florence Pugh (The Falling) as a defiant, passionate young woman struggling against suffocating societal norms.
Adapted from Nikolai Leskov’s 1865 novella Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk District and transposed to rural Northumberland, it follows young bride Katherine (Pugh), trapped in a loveless marriage to a morose (and sexually inadequate) older man and browbeaten by her sadistic husband’s callous family. But when she embarks on a passionate affair, a new force is unleashed inside her, one so powerful that she will stop at nothing to get what she wants.
Oldroyd makes a seamless transition from theatre (he gained many admirers as the Director in Residence at London’s Young Vic) to filmmaking with this stark and sensual adaptation.
“As Katherine, Pugh has the vaulting ambition of Shakespeare’s character (a single line, “It is done”, pays homage to the great ancestor), also the Flaubertian yearning of the passionate woman subjected to the bourgeois tyranny of wifehood, as well as the modern noir obsession and criminal daring that begins to assume its own momentum.” – Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian ★★★★★
“One of the pleasures of William Oldroyd’s debut feature . . . is the way our sympathies are steadily confounded. Others [include] the outstanding performances, led by Florence Pugh in the title role: poised, bored and more wilful than she knows.” – Neville Hawcock, Financial Times ★★★★