A period piece with some serious bite, William Oldroyd's Lady Macbeth is a subversive story examining the darker side of desire, a film which showcases the path in which patriarchal oppression can lead when one is stifled and alone in a loveless marriage. set in Rural England, 1865, Lady Macbeth follows Katherine, a young woman, who is married to a bitter man twice her age, while also dealing with father in law whose coldness and demanding nature are more akin to a slave than a member of the family. The objectification of Katherine is obvious right from the beginning of Lady Macbeth, showcasing a woman who is effectively stationary, an ornament for her husband and father-in-law, one that is always regulated to the background. The intrinsic loneliness which is manifests in this setting, one where everything about Katherine in society is defined by her husband, is the driving force of what transpires through the film's ninety minute running time, with Lady Macbeth taking the viewer on a wild journey of deception, desire, and death. A woman void of independence and any freedoms to make her own decisions, Katherine's passionate affair with Sebastian, the young worker on her husband's estate, unfolds with dramatic, escalating force, detailing in Katherine a woman whom has been freed from her oppression, dead set on getting whatever she wants. Not what one would describe as your typical period piece about Patriarchal oppression, Lady Macbeth is much more brooding and sinister, a film which juxtaposes the cordial, polite etiquette of the time with Katherine's increasingly sinister intentions, exhibiting a woman whose desire and freedom begins to consumer her. Katherine's awakening is one that stiffling with vengeance in its heart, with the character's freedom from repressive, patriarchal role of the household being just as much driven by her quest for freedom as her passion for Sebastian, a farm hand whom she wholly desires. While Lady Macbeth's cinematography is acute in its compositions, with mise en scene that evokes the restricting place in society held by wives and woman of this time, the film's ability to carry a brooding atmosphere similar to a horror film through the cold, stillness of its photography. Sebastian himself isn't the typical charmer one is accustomed to seeing either in these types of films, being presented more as a brute, not romantic but a sexually driven force, one that is improper, wild, yet free. Katherine and Sebastian's torrid relationship, one which remains int he shadows is subversive yet passionately charged, with Katherine eventually becoming grossly empowered by her new found independence and power, being the widow of a wealthy farm owner, a character whom eventually becomes fueled just as much by survival as passion, desire, or love.
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