The 1865 novella Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District has been adapted into a movie. Yay !!!
For those not familiar with that piece of literature, it dealt with abuse, adultery, and what it’s like for a wife relegated to sitting at home waiting around for her husband. Occasionally she has to struggle to fit into corsets, and stay up waiting for her husband to come to bed. When he does retire to the bedroom, he’ll make her strip naked and…he’ll crawl into bed and go to sleep, while she stands there nude. I have no clue what that was all about, but…it eventually leads this housewife down a bad path.
Now, had this woman gone down the wicked path she has because of her horrible situation…maybe the audience would be on board. Yet we can’t be on her side after a few things happen early on.
So, Katherine (Florence Pugh) is purchased by her father-in-law Boris (Christopher Fairbank). He got her and a parcel of land, and now she’s in a loveless marriage with Alexander (Paul Hilton). She displays small amounts of sarcasm at the oppressive situation she finds herself in. That’s all a decent start to the proceedings. You start to think this might be a feminist period piece. And hey — a woman did write the screenplay. The handsome shots of landscapes are done by a woman (cinematographer Ari Wegner). Unfortunately, those were the only good things about this movie.
We wouldn’t fault Katherine for having an affair with farmhand Sebastian (Cosmo Jarvis), except for one small detail. Our first introduction to him is when he’s sexually assaulting and humiliating the black maid (Naomi Ackie). And when their affair starts, it’s because of him breaking into her house in an attempt to rape her.
Had the feminist aspects of what life was like in 1865, or the class and racial aspects, been tackled…there might have been something here. What ends up happening is that Katherine seems like a much more contemporary woman, and so mean-spirited and psycho, you just stop caring about this character study. It doesn’t help that you’re bored to tears.
The shaky camera, which has been annoying me for over 10 years now, was employed. Not sure when filmmakers will give this technique a rest.
The scenarios felt implausible, and at times I started thinking — which is a worse movie, this or The Beguiled?
The whole thing is a dull and tedious affair,
The young Florence Pugh (she’s 21), certainly has promising career ahead. Unfortunately, this movie isn’t worth your time — despite her performance and the cinematography.
1 star out of 5.