Run time: 1h29

Director: William Oldroyd

Cast: Florence Pugh, Christopher Fairbank, Cosmo Jarvis, Paul Hilton, Naomie Ackie

Synopsis: Rural England, 1865. Katherine is stifled by her loveless marriage to a bitter man twice her age, and his cold, unforgiving family. When she embarks on a passionate affair with a young worker on her husband’s estate, a force is unleashed inside her so powerful that she will stop at nothing to get what she wants.


Theatre and Opera director William Oldroyd brings us this stunning, original film, adapted by Alice Birch from the mid-nineteenth century Russian novella by Nikolai Leskov, Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District (which achieved its greatest notoriety in the 1930s Soviet Union in an operatic adaptation by Dmitri Shostakovich which fell foul of Stalin’s limited artistic tastes).

Although nothing to do with Shakespeare’s ‘Scottish play’, the mesmerising central performance from Florence Pugh, who shone as the charismatic Abbie in Carol Morley’s The Falling (2014), echoes the ambition, strength of will, cruelty and dissimulation of the Bard’s Lady Macbeth.

Now transposed to northern rural England in the 1860s with a windswept atmosphere redolent of the Brontes, Katherine (Florence Pugh) is a young girl married off to an older man, Alexander (Paul Hilton), as more of a business transaction than a love match.

Soon after a disastrous wedding night and imprisoned in an isolated, cold manor house, Katherine embarks on a reckless, passionate affair with a young stable hand, Sebastian (Cosmo Jarvis).

Examining issues of misogyny, racism, feminism and class as the film unfolds, we are taken into the mind of Katherine as she asserts her true psychopathic nature, with consequences that are chilling and brilliantly realised.

With atmospheric cinematography and spare, minimalist production design from Jacqueline Abrahams, the look of the film is reminiscent of the cool, subdued, symmetrical paintings of Danish artist, Vilhelm Hammershoi (1864-1916).

Overall a superb debut feature from director Oldroyd and confirmation of the precocious talent and skills of youthful Florence Pugh.

Images courtesy of ALTITUDE