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Fanny Lye Deliver'd

  • Film
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
Fanny Lye Deliver'd
Photograph: Vertigo Releasing

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Take a trip into the muddy, mysterious world of this enjoyable Puritan western

It’s 1657, the English Civil War has been over for six years and, amid the geese and muck of a remote English farm, ex-soldier John Lye (Charles Dance) rules the roost with an iron fist and a Puritanical devotion to the good book. His cowed wife Fanny (Maxine Peake) and young son dutifully follow his godly example – at least, until two mysterious strangers (Freddie Fox and Tanya Reynolds) smuggle their way on to the property, clad in little more than a flimsy backstory, and upset the apple cart in spectacular fashion.

Writer-director Thomas Clay, making an eye-catching return after a gap of 11 years, carves an enthralling, brutal, darkly funny and oddly hypnotic tale from this muddy patch of period England. If you had to categorise it, you might place it within the rich tradition of British folk-horror alongside Witchfinder General – Peter McDonald’s hilariously evil, moustache-twiddling High Sheriff takes a cue or two from Vincent Price here – but it’s a film that always ploughs its own furrow: chewing over biblical text one minute, unleashing lurid splashes of violence the next.

Fox is deliciously shifty as the leader of this pair of libertine interlopers, but it’s Peake who steals the show as Fanny, a browbeaten but dogged woman who gradually finds her voice in this chaotic moment of English history. Put your wellies on and step into her world.

Available to stream in the UK.

Phil de Semlyen
Written by
Phil de Semlyen

Cast and crew

  • Director:Thomas Clay
  • Screenwriter:Thomas Clay
  • Cast:
    • Charles Dance
    • Maxine Peake
    • Freddie Fox
    • Tanya Reynolds
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