Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A heartless (anti)heroine is at center of "Lady Macbeth"

The young newcomer British actress Florence Pugh, portraying the lady Katherine Lester in the English period piece Lady Macbeth, possesses the kind of deceptive physical naivety and innocence that are mere masks for the real monster that is actually underneath all that oh-woe-is-me girlish persona.  Forced to marry an older man whose idea of passion is to jerk off while watching her stand naked, she eventually begins a passionate affair with a younger stable hand, Sebastian (Cosmo Jarvis), and as their heated union reaches the ears of everyone she knows, things begin to spiral out of control, leading to events initially deemed unimaginable by such a young and lovely maiden fair.

Directed by William Oldroyd, the movie is slow paced, with hardly any musical score, yet its titular anti heroine, based on the cold hearted spouse of Shakespeare's legendary character, is a marvel to behold: the initial pity we feel for her early on, as she's oppressed not only by her husband but also by the chauvinistic society of 19th century England she occupies, is eventually replaced by an abhorrent sense of disgust.  The final image, in which she occupies the very center of a rather evenly symmetrical frame, consumed by her allegedly remorseful conscience, is Godfather-esque in its examination of an Angel fallen deeply into the pits of hell.  It's haunting beyond belief.

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