The light beer equivalent of Braveheart, David Mackenzie’s competent, but relatively pointless epic Outlaw King has plenty of bloodshed, lots of actors shouting impassionedly, expertly lensed melees, picturesque locations, and not much else of note.
British filmmaker William Oldroyd might have a background in theatre, but his debut feature, Lady Macbeth (opening in Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal this weekend) has less in common with Shakespeare than its title might suggest. More attuned to contemporary cinema and classic literature, Oldroyd’s film breathes new life into stodgy tropes of Victorian Era period pieces and creates a monster of a sexually loaded power struggle.
One of the most quietly dazzling and nuanced debut features in recent memory, William Oldroyd’s subtly nasty Lady Macbeth heralds the arrival of several major new voices in film. It’s a tightly crafted and exceptionally well directed period piece spawned from an appropriately weighty script and anchored by a still emerging leading talent delivering one of the year’s best performance. Lady Macbeth isn’t a traditional feel good movie or revenge narrative by any stretch, but it’s some of the most devilish fun artistically inclined audiences can have while squirming uncomfortably in their seats.