Fanny Lye Deliver’d
Fanny Lye Deliver’d takes place in 1657 in Oliver Cromwell’s Britain – a harsh period in which the film claims “our modern notions of personal, political and sexual freedom were forged.”
Thomas Clay’s movie is a terrifically provocative and twisted tale of morally conflicted people, mirroring the disparate ideologies of a post-Civil War England. We follow four principal characters in this story. There’s the Puritan couple John (Charles Dance) and Fanny Lye (Maxine Peake) whose failing marriage is only upheld for the good of their young son Arthur (Zak Adams). Then there’s a capricious pair of lovers on the run: Thomas (The Crown’s Freddie Fox) and Rebecca (Tanya Reynolds of Sex Education fame), who begin to terrorize the Lye family after the latter grants them shelter from the law in their isolated farm. Indeed, as the opening title suggests, the tensions between the two pairs are sexual, religious and political.
Claustrophobically tight close-ups of faces captured through snap zooms on grainy 35mm really make this film feel as though it was plucked from 50 years ago and released today. The comparison to cinema back then becomes more apparent as the style and tone remind us of the religious thrillers from that era – such as Ken Russell’s The Devils and the original The Wicker Man as well as more obviously the cult British horror flick Witchfinder General – further when you witness the brutally graphic violence. Fanny Lye Deliver’d also has the most warped sex scene since Midsommar.
Like the works of Robert Eggers, Clay’s dialogue is carefully crafted to exactly match the period and therefore it can occasionally be hard to fully grasp the meaning without subtitles. But the images are so blunt that the emotional impact isn’t severed by missing the nuance of the words. Furthermore, Clay’s raging score works overtime to offer the gnarliest viewing experience and all the actors pitch their performances perfectly, particularly Maxine Peake whose character evolution from deferential to defiant is miraculous, producing a satisfying finale. Genre film enthusiasts will have a ball with this throwback to vintage British horror of the 60s and 70s.
Fanny Lye Deliver’d is released digitally on demand on 26th June 2020.
Watch the trailer for Fanny Lye Deliver’d here: