It’s as stark and brutal as its cold, windswept north-of-England setting, a tale of privilege, power, violent sexual appropriation and sharp challenges to our sympathies. The year is 1865, and young Katherine (force-of-nature newcomer Florence Pugh) has just been wedded, purely as a business arrangement, to a much-older merchant (Paul Hilton). This portrait of her life is a chilling tableau of static silence in an almost empty house, full of loneliness and sensory deprivation. When she can stand it no more, she takes up with handsome groomsman Sebastian (Cosmo Jarvis). For a while, we cheer her audacity as she pushes back against those who would put her in a tiny box—until she takes it a step far beyond the cheerable. The film’s title has nothing to do with Shakespeare, except metaphorically, capturing the tragedy of a woman whose only expression of power comes in conniving ways, because it’s the only avenue she has. The film doesn’t excuse Katherine, just explains her, and never flinches in the face of the monstrous reality that our society has long condoned punching down.
Director: William Oldroyd
Producer: Fodhla O'Reilly and Lizzie Francke
Cast: Florence Pugh, Cosmo Jarvis, Paul Hilton, Naomi Ackie, Christopher Fairbank, Bill Fellows, Joseph Teague, Ian Conningham and Fleur Houdijk