Fall Girls
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Fall Girls

Some people may be confused by the title of an impressive feature film debut from British stage director William Oldroyd; Lady Macbeth has nothing to do with Shakespeare’s Scottish play but is adapted from a Russian novella, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk District, written The Professor and the Madman in 1865 by Nikolai Leskov. The book has been filmed at least once before, in 1962, by the Polish director Andrzej Wajda, who made it in Yugoslavia, and was the basis for the Shostakovich opera of the same name, first performed in 1934.

Wajda’s film emphasised the filthy, muddy backdrop of the rundown farm where the female protagonist turned her frustration into violence. Oldroyd’s film, more White Boy Rick sober and less hysterical, is a superb character study of a woman who chafes under a system in which she is the virtual prisoner of her husband and father-in-law; nothing more than a commodity, bought and paid for.

The first image of the film is of Katherine — memorably portrayed by a talented newcomer, Florence Pugh — on her wedding day; her face is hidden behind a veil. Loving It’s a romantic, traditional image — but Katherine’s wedding night with Alexander (Paul Hilton) couldn’t be less romantic. All Alexander can say to his young bride is to warn her that the house is cold — as if she wasn’t already aware of this — and then demand that she strip for him. But he’s unable or unwilling to consummate the relationship, and goes to sleep with his back to her.

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