UK / 89 min / Color / Sixty Six Pictures, iFeatures Dir: William Oldroyd Pro: Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly Scr: Alice Birch, based on the book Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District by Nikolai Leskov Cin: Ari Wegner Mus: Dan Jones Cast: Florence Pugh, Cosmo Jarvis, Christopher Fairbank, Fleur Houdijk, Bill Fellows, Rebecca Manley, Ian Conningham, Paul Hilton, Naomi Ackie, Golda Rosheuvel, Kema Sikazwe, David Kirkbride, Joseph Teague, Cliff Burnett, Alan Billingham Synopsis: The debut feature by accomplished theater director William Oldroyd relocates Nikolai Leskov’s play Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District to Victorian England. Florence Pugh is forceful and complex as Lady Katherine, who enters into an arranged marriage with the domineering, repressed Alexander (Paul Hilton), and must contend with her husband’s even more unpleasant mine-owner father (Christopher Fairbank). In this constrictive new milieu, she finds carnal release with one of her husband’s servants (Cosmo Jarvis), but there are profound consequences to her infidelity. Boasting deft performances by an outstanding ensemble cast, Lady Macbeth is a rousing parable about the price of freedom. A Roadside Attractions release (Source: MoMA) Release Dates: 10 September 2016 (Toronto International Film Festival); 19 September 2016 (Donostia-San Sebastian International Film Festival); France 12 April 2017; UK 28 April 2017; Spain 28 April 2017. IMDb Rating: 7.1
Acclaimed theatre director William Oldroyd relocates Nikolai Leskov’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk to 19th-century England, in this Gothic tale about a young woman trapped in a marriage of convenience whose passionate affair unleashes a maelstrom of murder and mayhem on a country estate. William Oldroyd has built a reputation in the theatre, particularly as Director in Residence at London’s Young Vic theatre, where, amongst other things, he staged Frank McGuinness’ daring update of Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts. Now Oldroyd makes a seamless transition to filmmaking with his beautifully controlled adaptation of Nikolai Leskov’s famous Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, the source material for Shostakovich’s opera of the same name. Yet “theatrical” is not a word one would use to describe Oldroyd’s debut feature film. His work with the cast is faultless, but what’s most striking about Lady Macbeth is its sheer formal beauty. This is a film for anyone who loves to see a camera in exactly the right position, moving in exactly the right way. Its story concerns Lady Katherine (Florence Pugh), a young misfit in the stifling social atmosphere of Victorian England. Locked in a marriage of convenience to a much older man, marooned on an estate amidst the northern heaths of County Durham, Katherine strains against the social mores of the time. Lectured at by the local priest, tormented by a father-in-law who expects her to provide an heir, she paces her constrictive world like a wild animal looking for escape. She soon finds an outlet for her passions in Sebastian (Cosmo Jarvis), a young groom who is one of her husband’s many servants. Those passions could be their undoing. Portrayed by Pugh with an almost primal fervour, Katherine is a powerful revision of the Gothic heroine. Lady Macbeth‘s strange tale of love and betrayal revolves around her force of will, and Oldroyd takes hold of this topsy-turvy drama with the authority of a master storyteller. A brilliant filmmaker is born. (Source: Toronto International Film Festival)
About William Oldroyd: William’s first feature film, Lady Macbeth, premiered at Toronto International Film Festival 2016 and was subsequently chosen as a top ten pick of the festival in both Variety and Rolling Stone. BAFTA, Variety, The Observer and Evening Standard have identified William as a director to watch in the future. William’s short film Best won the Sundance London Short Film Competition in 2013 and was then invited to be screened at the Sundance Festival, 2014. Previously he had worked with film and video at art college before becoming a successful theatre and opera director in the UK and abroad. As Director in Residence at the Young Vic Theatre, London he staged contemporary adaptations of European classics such as Ghosts by Ibsen. Subsequently he was invited to direct adaptations of Sartre in Tokyo, Beckett in Munich and Shakespeare in UK for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Complete Works Festival. Opera productions include works by Pergolesi in Portugal and Donizetti at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London. Lady Macbeth was adapted by Alice Birch from the mid-nineteenth century novella by Nikolai Leskov and produced by Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly with the support of the BFI, BBC Films and Creative England through iFeatures. It has already won the FIPRESCI International Critics’ prize at San Sebastián and Thessaloniki, the Critics’ Choice at Zurich and the Cineuropa prize for outstanding cinematic contribution at Les Arcs, France. William is represented by United Agents in U.K. and by WME in the US.