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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Worth watching

7/10
Author: euroGary from United Kingdom
25 November 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

My enjoyment of the first fifteen minutes of the 2016 London Film Festival's showing of 'Lady Macbeth' was spoiled by the large numbers of people arriving late and causing disruption as they tried to find their seats in the darkened cinema. For Heaven's sake, make an effort to turn up on time, people!

Anyway, having got that out of my system... Katherine (Florence Pugh) is bought, together with a piece of land "not fit to graze a cow on", by wealthy mine owner Boris (Christopher Fairbank, forever remembered as Moxey in 'Auf Wiedersehen, Pet') as a wife for his son Alexander (Paul Hilton). But when both Boris and Alexander (the latter having failed miserably in the bedroom department) are called away, Katherine, left alone in a house full of servants, catches the eye of groom Sebastian (Cosmo Jarvis). We then have a quick canter through the old 'woman half-heartedly resists arrogant man' plot (which to me always carries an unwelcome whiff of 'when a woman says "no" she really means "yes"') before Katherine enthusiastically submits to Sebastian's straggly-bearded charms. (And why wouldn't she? Describing his participation in the gang assault on her maid as 'weighing a sow', he's plainly a keeper.) But if Sebastian thinks he is getting things all his own way, Katherine soon proves the shoe is on the other foot...

Whether the audience were supposed to laugh I am not sure; but when we did, we were laughing with the film, not at it. Certainly the matter-of-fact way Katherine proceeds on her rebellious, seductive, murderous way had an element of black comedy about it; it was only her shooting of a horse that caused horrified silence (remember, this was an English audience). Pugh does well in making Katherine neither a wild-eyed lunatic nor a Hannibal Lecter-style psychopath. As her maid and unwilling accomplice, Naomi Ackie also provides nice work.

How close this is to the source material - a Russian novella written in 1865 - I do not know. I found the maid's sudden muteness a mite convenient, since it meant she could not tell on her mistress; and Sebastian's change of heart was hardly unexpected. But this was an interesting film and I will probably watch it again if it turns up on television.

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