The femme fatale was first popularised in medieval literature to caution against female sexuality. In film noir, they’re dangerous women who use their charms to manipulate men. This archetype feels outdated today, but tales of dangerously seductive women continue to fascinate storytellers today.
Based on Nikolai Leskov’s novel Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, the film Lady Macbeth is about Katherine (Florence Pugh), a woman who would do anything to escape her loveless, humiliating marriage, embarking on a passionate affair with the stable boy.
The script by playwright Alice Birch, who moves the setting from Russia to rural England, unflinchingly depicts the cruelty that besets Katherine and the violence she unleashes on those who get in her way. Keeping his camera on brutal moments of both the emotional and physical kind, director William Oldroyd presents a raw and uncompromising vision of misogyny in the upper class.
As Katherine, 21-year-old Pugh will command your attention from the beginning to the chilling final shot, transforming from a bored, desperate housewife to a vicious anti-heroine. It’s truly a star-making performance.
Equally compelling and no less complex is the titular character in My Cousin Rachel. Young Philip (Sam Claflin) believes that his beloved cousin and guardian, Ambrose, was murdered by Ambrose’s wife, Rachel (Rachel Weisz). Philip invites Rachel to his estate, plotting a course for revenge. What he doesn’t expect is to fall hopelessly in love with this charming house guest.
My Cousin Rachel is adapted from the book by Daphne du Maurier, whose stories Rebecca and The Birds were both adapted into films by Alfred Hitchcock. So it’s no surprise that My Cousin Rachel also has the flavour of a Hitchcockian mystery. The film deftly plays with perception, introducing red herrings into Weisz’s enigmatic performance. The mystery itself is not that complex, but Weisz’s take on the character keeps us intrigued.
Need to watch something to get you through your journey? Check how you’re feeling from our handy list of entertainment-related symptoms
Restless Traveller Sydrome
Fidgety? Can’t concentrate? You need to get engrossed in something. Try these.
See Charlie Hunnam wield the sacred Excalibur in Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (movies – Western cinema). Zac Efron and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson head to the beach for the big-screen reboot of Baywatch (movies – Western cinema) (above). The Hirata family tackles another crisis in Japanese comedy What a Wonderful Family! 2 (movies – Asian cinema). Join bickering comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon as they eat their way around the Iberian peninsula in The Trip to Spain (movies – Western cinema).
Altitude-Adjusted Lachrymosity Syndrome
It’s a physiological fact – we get weepy at 35,000 feet. Why fight it?
Rooney Mara stars as a woman trapped in a love triangle between a fighter pilot and a priest in The Secret Scripture (movies – Western cinema). Witness a breathtaking performance of Giacomo Puccini’s Turandot (TV – entertainment). Meet a dysfunctional family that embarks on an unforgettable road trip in Little Miss Sunshine (movies – Western classics). Lau Ching-wan stars in the true story of a reformed gangster turned rehab worker in Dealer/Healer (movies – Chinese cinema) (above)
You’re not feeling very mainstream today. Time to get arty. Experiment a little.
Brian Cox is mesmerising as Sir Winston Churchill in political drama Churchill (movies – Western cinema). Enter the mind of a true cinematic genius with David Lynch: The Art Life (TV – documentary) (above). Stephen Fry’s hilarious mystery novel comes to life in The Hippopotamus (movies – Western cinema). A chess player uses his talent to defy his captors in Spanish drama El Jugador de Ajedrez (The Chess Player) (movies – arthouse).
Fear of Missing Out
Everyone’s talking about this movie or TV show. What do you mean you’ve not seen it?
The deadly xenomorphs are back in Alien: Covenant (movies – Western cinema) (above); while Captain Jack Sparrow sets sail once again in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (movies – Western cinema). Revisit the first season of critically acclaimed drama The Good Wife (TV – drama); and a young man battles his new girlfriend’s seven evil exes in cult comedy Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (movies – Western classics).