Pleasures and Pandemonium: Our Review of ‘Lady Macbeth’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - July 28, 2017
Pleasures and Pandemonium: Our Review of ‘Lady Macbeth’

A woman left to her own devices will do, much to the dismay of a particular entitled white man in Lady Macbeth, whatever she damn well pleases.

In William Oldroyd’s biting and compelling period drama, a betrothed woman breaks free of her physical and emotional shackles at a time when that often wasn’t possible, and definitely wasn’t encouraged. It’s sometime in the 19th century in the English countryside, and young Katherina (Florence Pugh) isn’t having it. Her new husband except fidelity, serenity, and constant obedience – he is immediately despicable.

And he also doesn’t know who he is a dealing with. Not that Katherine has her life under control or thinks too far ahead. She just knows what she wants. And that may include a physical relationship with one of the laborers, it may include treating woman with respect, and it may include inflicting some punishment on the stuffy, demanding, awful men that control her world.

Sparsely populated with shades of gray, Lady Macbeth is a subversive in many ones. There are no lavish costumes or ornate decorations, and there is nothing particular to celebrate. It’s a often a quiet, contemplative, and unnerving trip. That’s in part because the actions of the coquettish and resourceful Florence elicit laughter, giddiness, and horror – sometimes all in equal measure.

When her husband leaves, she acts on her curiosity; then lust; then necessity. Her affair starts, progresses, and closes in a bizarre way, as the story moves from Katherine’s actions to her subsequent reactions due to the ensuing bedlam.

It all makes for a captivating watch, as the brilliant Pugh commands the screen with her fierce character, a woman who is lustful and unapologetic, who is partly but nowhere near completely in control. She will have her revenge, but also plenty of pleasure along the way.

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Anthony is a lover of a good story in any form, on any subject. Tirelessly navigating filmdom, he is equal parts an unbridled idealist and stubborn curmudgeon, trying to strike a balance between head and heart when it comes to pop culture. He pens stories about television, music, the environment, lifestyles, and all things noteworthy and peculiar.