Lady Macbeth

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United Kingdom | 2016 | 89 minutes | William Oldroyd

Based not on Shakespeare but on a classic Russian novel, this Gothic tale from up-and-coming director William Oldroyd takes place in rural England, where a young woman (Florence Pugh) is stifled by her loveless marriage to a bitter older man.

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Bundled with a sale of land, young Katherine is sold by her father to an elderly aristocrat who in turn, forces her to marry his boorish, middle-aged son, Alexander. When they meet he offers no kindness and cannot even consummate the nuptials, leaving Katherine with an overwhelming sense of despair. Ordered to stay within the walls of their crumbling family mansion while her new husband and father-in-law are away on business, Katherine meets a rebellious servant named Sebastian (played with delicious moodiness by musician-turned-actor Cosmo Jarvis), who opens her eyes and hands her the key to emotional—and sexual—freedom. Their affair intensifies and cannot be kept secret for long. When her husband returns Katherine decides to defend her newfound fulfillment at any cost, no matter how much blood is shed. Based on Russian writer Nikolai Leskov's 1865 novella "Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk" and led by relative newcomer Florence Pugh (The Falling) in a mesmerizingly self-assured performance, this Victorian melodrama is not only a tragic story of forbidden romance, but, perhaps more important, an explosive feminist tale of vengeance.

Director Biography

Oldroyd studied directing at RADA before becoming Director in Residence at the Young Vic Theatre, where he directed "Ghosts" by Henrik Ibsen in a new version by Frank McGuinness. He subsequently directed a large-scale production of Sartre's "Kean" in Tokyo, "Waiting For Godot" in Munich, and "Two Noble Kinsmen" at the RSC for the Complete Works Festival. His opera productions include "Don Pasquale" at Sadler's Wells Theatre and "La Serva Padrona" in Portugal. Oldroyd's first short film, "Christ's Dog," was written by Howard Barker and nominated for Best Short Film at the Hamburg International Independent Film Festival. His second short film, "Best," written by Adam Brace, won the Sundance London Short Film competition and subsequently screened at Sundance. Lady Macbeth is his first feature film.

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  • Director: William Oldroyd
  • Principal Cast: Florence Pugh, Cosmo Jarvis, Paul Hilton, Naomi Ackie, Christopher Fairbank
  • Premiere Status: Seattle
  • Country: United Kingdom
  • Year: 2016
  • Running Time: 89 minutes
  • Producer: Alice Birch
  • Screenplay: Nikolai Leskov (Based on Novel By), Alice Birch (Screenplay)
  • Cinematographers: Ari Wegner
  • Editors: Nick Emerson
  • Music: Dan Jones
  • Awards: San Sebastian Film Festival 2016 (FIPRESCI Award)
  • Filmography: Debut Feature Film
  • Language: English
  • Format: DCP
  • US Distributor: Roadside Attractions
  • International Sales: Protagonist Pictures