In the austere 1865 rural England, the innocent 17-year-old teenage bride, Katherine, is sold by her father and forced into marriage with the twice-her-age colliery heir, Alexander Lester. Under those circumstances, the young wife who is imprisoned in a joyless and loveless marriage will soon find a ray of light in the darkness of her boredom in the person of Sebastian, the estate’s unrefined stable groom, with whom she will start an ill-advised and progressively reckless romance. But the walls have ears, and who knows what one is capable of doing in the name of freedom.
Lady Macbeth is a 2016 British drama film directed by William Oldroyd and written by Alice Birch, based on the short story Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District by Nikolai Leskov. It stars Florence Pugh, Cosmo Jarvis, Paul Hilton, Naomi Ackie and Christopher Fairbank. The plot follows a young woman who is stifled by her loveless marriage to a bitter man twice her age.
The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on 10 September 2016. Shortly after, Roadside Attractions and Altitude Film Distribution acquired US and UK distribution rights to the film, respectively. It went onto screen at the BFI London Film Festival on 14 October 2016 and the Sundance Film Festival on 20 January 2017. The film was released in the United Kingdom on 28 April 2017 and in the United States on 14 July 2017. It received positive reviews and has grossed nearly $4 million worldwide.
About the Story
It’s 1865. In rural England, a young woman named Katherine is in a loveless marriage to an older man, Alexander Lester. They live at the country estate of Alexander’s father, Boris. Katherine is forced to maintain a strict schedule and prevented from leaving the house. Boris scolds her for not giving Alexander a son, but Alexander’s sexual interest in his wife seems to be limited to watching her naked body. One day, both Boris and Alexander have to leave the estate for separate business matters, leaving Katherine alone with the housemaid named Anna. For the first time in memory, she is free to explore the area to alleviate her boredom.
Katherine soon discovers Anna being suspended from the ceiling of an outhouse by the men who work on the land. She is attracted to one of them, Sebastian, and the next day sets herself up to meet him. When Sebastian comes to the house to visit Katherine, they begin an affair. Anna informs the local priest, who attempts to warn Katherine, but she sends him away. When Boris returns home, he is informed of the affair, beats Sebastian and locks him in a stable, and threatens Katherine when she demands his release. Katherine poisons his food, and calmly makes small talk with Anna as he chokes to death in the next room.
Anna is terrified into muteness, and Boris is buried without suspicion. Katherine takes over the estate, and she and Sebastian continue their affair openly. One night, while they are asleep in Katherine’s marital bed, she awakes to realise that Alexander has returned home. After he reveals that he is aware of the infidelity, Katherine summons Sebastian and they start to undress each other in front of him. A fight ensues, during which Katherine kills Alexander. The couple bury Alexander’s body in the woods and kill his horse. They are not directly accused of the murder, and Sebastian begins to dress and behave as the lord of the manor himself.
A woman arrives at the estate with a young boy named Teddy, who she claims is the product of an affair between Alexander and her daughter. Katherine reluctantly shelters the pair. Sebastian, angry at the change in living arrangements, returns to the outhouse. Katherine realises she is pregnant, but is unable to inform Sebastian. She also begins to bond with Teddy. When Teddy disappears after Katherine scolds him, Sebastian finds the boy sitting over a waterfall and rescues him. When he returns Teddy to the house, he admits that he considered pushing him. Katherine dissuades Sebastian from leaving, promising to do anything he wants in return.
Lady Macbeth (2017)
Directed by: William Oldroyd
Starring: Florence Pugh, Cosmo Jarvis, Paul Hilton, Naomi Ackie, Christopher Fairbank, Golda Rosheuvel, Anton Palmer, Rebecca Manley, Fleur Houdijk, Cliff Burnett, David Kirkbride
Screenplay by: Alice Birch
Production Design by: Jacqueline Abrahams
Cinematography by: Ari Wegner
Film Editing by: Nick Emerson
Costume Design by: Holly Waddington
Set Decoration by:
Art Direction by: Thalia Ecclestone
Music by: Dan Jones
MPAA Rating: R for some disturbing violence, strong sexuality / nudity, and language.
Distributed by: Roadside Attractions
Release Date: April 28, 2017 (Unied Kingdom), July 14, 2/17 (United States)