William Oldroyd directs Florence Pugh, Cosmo Jarvis and Naomi Ackie in the 19th century thriller about a young wife in arranged marriage who sexually and violently tries to gain and maintain the upper hand.
A rather adult gothic revival is sweeping through the cinema at the moment: from the high fantasy of Crimson Peak to the exotic kink of The Handmaiden, period drama is no longer restricted to chocolate box prestige adaptations and Dickensian miniseries. This hot and heavy thriller starts off appropriately constricted but soon shocks and swerves into unexpected corners of its sole modest country estate location. Pugh is provocatively assured in her central role (can’t wait to see what she does next), while Ackie is more than credible in breathing life into a part that carries a lot of the moral, emotional and narrative weight. Cosmo is the only newcomer less certain of himself, he’s more comfortable doing a decent Tom Hardy impression when he has to be cocky and alluring, less so when he realises just how horrific his ill advised affair’s consequences are. Pretty exciting stuff.