First Hit: Very little about this film was uplifting – it was dark and brooding all the way through.
From the get go, this film presses downward on the spirit of the film's characters. Katherine (Florence Pugh) was bought and forced to marry Alexander (Paul Hilton). His father Boris (Christopher Fairbank), who lives with them, chastises Katherine for not sexually satisfying his son and demands that she stay inside the house and never “take the air.” Alexander also treats Katherine with disdain, makes her disrobe, face the wall and then masturbates while looking at her back. Given this treatment, Katherine is both physically and sexually drawn towards Sebastian (Cosmo Jarvis), one of the caretakers who works on the estate.
This attraction leads to sex whenever they have the opportunity. When both Alexander and Boris leave on separate trips, she invites Sebastian into the home, despite the disapproval of her handmaiden servant Anna (Naomi Ackie) who also has had intimate relations with Sebastian.
Alexander suddenly re-appears and this wrecks the love birds’ life together, so they fix it by eliminating him. With this issue resolved another bump in the road appears when Agnes (Golda Rosheuvel) moves into the home with a child. They have papers stating that the father is Alexander therefore it is rightfully the boy's home as well. This pushes Sebastian out of the home, again and the devious way they resolve this issue is horrible.
When the law is called, and is questioning the death of the boy, Sebastian burst into the room and spills the sordid story. But because he's a black servant, he and Anna are not believed and are taken away.
Pugh is strong as Katherine, a young woman trapped, and will do anything to get what she wants. Hilton is appropriately mean and twisted. Fairbank is strong as the mean father-in-law. Jarvis is good as the object of Katherine’s desire. Ackie is excellent as the handmaiden. Rosheuvel is very strong in her role. Nikolai Leskov and Alice Birch wrote this very dark brooding script that had little hope or light in it. William Oldroyd did a good job of directing this film. The sets in the rooms were perfect for the film’s feeling.
Overall: Although the acting and direction was good, I really disliked the subject.