Bringing the Western genre to 1600s England, Fanny Lye Deliver’d is a violent, claustrophobic film that ends up being more style over substance.
Fanny (Maxine Peake) spends her days working hard for her husband John (Charles Dance) on his small farm in Shropshire, their son Arthur (Zak Adams) the one bright spot in her life.
Through narration we find out John is deeply Puritanical and Fanny is expected to serve him without question – you also get the sense she cannot imagine life being any other way.
That is until the family discover Thomas (Freddie Fox) and Rebecca (Tanya) in their barn, who claim to be a married couple and the victims of highway robbery.
Thomas’ way with words ingratiates the two even with John, until a visit from the High Sheriff (Peter McDonald) reveals their true intentions.
Camera IconCharles Dance plays Fanny's domineering husband John. Credit: Supplied
At first the film looks to be exploring what happens when the deeply conservative values of Puritanism meets the blasphemous more freethinking ways of what would eventually become Quakerism,
Thomas is positively woke for 1657, telling Fanny under his belief system female preachers are not only allowed but encouraged and, when things move to the bedroom, that he has never forced himself on a woman, in direct contrast to how Arthur was conceived.
However it’s this bedroom scene where things take a turn to the ludicrous, any of the thoughtful themes laid aside for some pointless nudity and then a dragged out bloody showdown.
For having her name in the title, Fanny is sidelined for most of the film until finally getting her moment towards the end.
As she rides off into the distance the narration tells of her exploits now that she is emancipated, all sounding much more interesting than the film we’ve just watched.
Fanny Lye Deliver’d (MA15+)
Director: Thomas Clay
Starring: Maxine Peake, Charles Dance, Freddie Fox
Two and a half stars
In cinemas July 29