|Olivera Markovic and Ljuba Tadic|
In the Russian district of Mtsensk, Katerina (Olivera Markovic) lives a comparatively bleak existence with her husband, Zinovij (Miodrag Lazarevic), who is usually absent, and her grumpy, awful father-in-law, Izmajlow (Bojan Stupica). One day comes an attractive laborer named Sergei (Ljuba Tadic), who makes a play for Katerina that she only momentarily rebuffs. Trying to hold on to a life together, the couple commit an increasingly terrible series of murders, then discover that the land they thinks belongs to them actually belongs to a child nephew. Just how far will these passionate lovers go to hold on to what they've acquired ...? Siberian Lady Macbeth is based on a story by Sveta Lukic, which was also the basis for Dmitri Shostakovitch's opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District. If anything, this Yugoslavian film is even more hard-hitting than the opera, uncompromising, powerful and at times horrifying to the extreme. The performances are excellent, and the film is well-directed and photographed, with a highlight being the climactic prison march. The compelling film is one of those movies, told from the point of view of people devoid of conscience, that almost -- almost -- makes you feel sorry for them at times (the fact that most of the victims are somewhat odious helps in that regard), but you'll ultimately feel that they get their just desserts in a very grim and pitiless finale. Remade as Lady Macbeth in 2016 with the setting transferred to England.
Verdict: Dark, sombre, fascinating -- a near-masterpiece. ***1/2.