Lady Macbeth follows the young recently married Catherine as she is adopted into the cold, patriarchal and violent environment of her husband’s home. He is often absent and his new wife begins an affair with a worker on the estate, resorting to murder to maintain her illicit romance. A brutal Victorian period drama, this film had pretensions of being serious insightful British drama, yet it fell oddly flat. The potential insight into Victorian patriarchy and class and gender issues remained elusive and half realised and the attempts at atmospheric tone felt stagnant and dull.
The film presented the everyday brutality of Victorian aristocratic life very effectively as the young bride is viciously controlled by her husband and father in law and ruthlessly laced into the costume of the day by her servant. The cinematography beautifully captured the cold and empty environment and merged nicely with the plot and depiction of the characters. A lot of plot was packed into 90 minutes yet some interesting events left hanging in a way that I found frustrating. The plot that seemed intriguing on paper became monotonous on screen and felt quite unsatisfying. The audience was not invited to connect or empathise with any of the characters, so as the plot progressed and Catherine emerged as Lady Macbeth, I didn’t really care.
‘The plot that seemed intriguing on paper became monotonous on screen and felt quite unsatisfying’
It was a nicely shot film with good performances and an interesting plot that just didn’t really work for me. While it was not necessarily bad there were definitely better films being shown at the film festival and the ponderous slowness suggested an insightful independent film that wasn’t really there. Lady Macbeth was a confused blur of harshness and passion and violence that ultimately left me cold.
(Image courtesy of TIFF)