In the Dark

Unflinching Women

Lady Macbeth
Produced by Sixty Six Pictures, BBC Films, and The British Film Institute 
Directed by William Oldroyd 
Screenplay by Alice Birch from the novel by Nikolai Leskov 

A Quiet Passion
Produced by Hurricane Films 
Written and directed by Terence Davies 
Distributed by Music Box Films 

The reviews of Lady Macbeth have been nearly unanimous, proclaiming it a work of bold feminist insight.  Frankly, I’m puzzled by such acclamation.  Maybe I missed the latest turn in feminist ideology.  Does feminism now promote murdering fathers-in-law, followed by husbands and children, all in the cause of womanly fulfillment, as does this filmed narrative?  This is a bold swerve, indeed.  Of course, ideologies do need to be ruthless.  Breaking a few eggs has always been on the menu for those intent on serving us the greater omelette.

The film is derived from the 1865 Russian novel Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District by Nikolai Leskov.  There’s little in the novel to suggest Leskov had feminism in mind when writing it.  He seems rather to have been a proto James M. Cain meditating on how capitalism fuses greed and lust until they get murderously out of hand.

The film’s first shot is a tight close-up of Katherine...

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