Lady Macbeth: NZIFF Review
"Do you have any idea the damage you can bring upon this family?"
A star is born in the devilishly sizzling William Oldroyd helmed Lady Macbeth, a reinvention of the Russian novella Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District.
Florence Pugh burns up the screen as Katherine, a young bride trapped in the shackles of marriage and in a home of pure hell. With an extremely strict and brutal father-in-law and a husband who has no interest in her other than barking orders, this repressed bride finds life dull and boring.
Coming across a new stablehand Sebastian (Cosmo Jarvis), Katherine falls into lust - and the inevitable happens. However, plotting to escape the confines of a positively Victorian ethos could lead to dark resolutions.
Make no mistake, Florence Pugh positively owns the screen and burns it up in this chilling tale of desire as her character goes from victim to villainess.
From Katherine's desire for Sebastian to her desire to do whatever is necessary to escape and to live a life that's her own, Pugh uses the simplest of facials and the subtlest of moves to convey this. Whether it's the sheer joy of walking outside on the moors (which she's forbidden to do) as the mist hangs low or leaving buttons undone on her pristine outfit, Pugh brings a level of physicality to the role that's compelling to watch from beginning to end. She finds happiness in the growing moral turpitude and it's unsettling and conflicting to have you root for her every small victory.
Equally, Oldroyd's helming brings a degree of clinical chilliness to proceedings.
With a stripped back soundtrack and simple eye of precision behind the camera, Oldroyd concentrates on the moments which will bring maximum shock to the screen - be warned, there are moments that will stun you as this tale of barbed feminism plays out.
Atmospherically built and viscerally sparse, Lady Macbeth is a truly seminal experience; a peek into feminist politics and a mesmerising lead make it an unmissable and gut-wrenching piece of cinema.