Film Review: My Cousin Rachel

Writer-director Roger Michell’s My Cousin Rachel is a sumptuous mystery drama. The clandestine nature of the film is engaging throughout, aided by a dynamic performance from Rachel Weisz.

After his guardian Ambose dies, Philip plots revenge against his wife Rachel. He believes Rachel is responsible for Ambrose’s death. Yet Philip’s feelings become muddled after he meets Rachel…

Based on the Daphne du Maurier novel, Roger Michell’s adaptation of My Cousin Rachel is a delightfully escapist affair. The period setting is lavish, and gives room for the gothic storyline to unfold.  The narrative is carefully woven, revealing only as much as is necessary at any given time. Rachel is given a significant introduction before she is seen on screen. This works well to give an impression of the character, from more than one viewpoint. When Rachel does arrive on screen for the first time, the necessary anticipation has been achieved.

Philip is an interesting protagonist in that he increasingly frustrates viewers by his attitude, yet still elicits sympathy.  Rachel meanwhile is an enigma; audiences will do their best to suss her out. A minor qualm is that it feels like almost every mention or action takes place to be referred to later in the film. Nonetheless, this is a minor issue, given that the narrative works well otherwise.

The broad landscapes are beautifully photographed by cinematographer Mike Eley. Lighting is used to a very effective degree in the interior scenes. The art direction is great in styling a lavish period film. Rachel Weisz delivers a strong performance as Rachel. She hits the right tone in being enigmatic and enchanting. Sam Claflin is well cast as Philip, whilst Holliday Grainger provides good support.

My Cousin Rachel is an entertaining adaptation of du Maurier’s novel. The film efficaciously enrobes a period drama with memorable gothic elements.

Previews: Detroit Trailer, 6 Days, More!

Lots to see in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the new Detroit trailer, Transformers: The Last Knight, 6 Days, and more…

Detroit Trailer

Here is the Detroit trailer. Kathryn Bigelow’s latest film is about the civil unrest that rocked the city in 1967. The film stars John Boyega, Will Poulter, Anthony Mackie, and Jack Reynor. Detroit will be released in UK cinemas later this year.

Transformers: The Last Knight Trailer

Here is the latest Transformers: The Last Knight trailer. The film sees Mark Wahlberg and Josh Duhamel return from the last instalment. They are joined by Anthony Hopkins this time around. From the above trailer, it seems that the world this film is set in is rather different to previous incarnations. Transformers: The Last Knight will hit UK screens on 23rd June 2017.

Atomic Blonde Trailer

So far, all the Atomic Blonde promotion seems to be delivering style in spades. The film stars Charlize Theron as an MI6 agent sent to deliver a priceless dossier. Theron is joined by James McAvoy, John Goodman, and Eddie Marsan. Atomic Blonde will be released in UK cinemas on 11th August 2017.

The Mummy Poster

The Mummy is intended as a reboot of the Universal Monsters series of films which were successful in the 1930s. This film is meant to kick off the series, which will also see the return of famed creatures in a shared universe. This new version of The Mummy certainly has star power; Tom Cruise heads up a cast which includes Sofia Boutella, Courtney B. Vance, and Russell Crowe. The Mummy hits UK screens on 9th June 2017.

6 Days Trailer

6 Days is a new action thriller based on true events. The film focuses on the Iranian Embassy siege that took place in London in 1980. The film stars Jamie Bell, Mark Strong, and Abbie Cornish. 6 Days is out at UK cinemas on 4th August 2017.

My Cousin Rachel Trailer

My Cousin Rachel is an adaption of the Daphne du Maurier novel. The film is about a young man who plots revenge against his mysterious cousin, who he believes murdered his guardian. Starring Rachel Weisz, Sam Claflin, and Holliday Grainger, My Cousin Rachel will be released on UK screens on 9th June 2017.

Unlocked Clip

Here is a clip from upcoming thriller Unlocked. The film is about a CIA agent who must stop a biological attack in London. Noomi Rapace heads up the cast, and is joined by Orlando Bloom, Michael Douglas, Toni Collette, and John Malkovich. Unlocked hits UK cinemas on 5th May 2017.

Film Review: Rebecca

One of Alfred Hitchcock’s finest films, Rebecca is difficult to fault. The film hits all the right notes, effortlessly blending drama, suspense and comedy.

A young paid companion meets Maxim de Winter whilst accompanying her employer in Monte Carlo. After a brief courtship, she agrees to become the second Mrs de Winter, marrying the wealthy and older Maxim. Taking her back to his Cornwall estate, the new Mrs de Winter realises that the memory of first wife Rebecca persists in the minds of Maxim and his servants…

Hitchcock’s first American film, Rebecca is a treat. The film is wholly absorbing, gripping audiences from start to finish. An adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 novel, the opening sequence is haunting with its memorable narration. This sets the film up perfectly; offering a taste of eerie atmosphere that pervades throughout.

The 1940 film excels in comedy just as much as it does in suspense. The first half of Rebecca, particularly the Monte Carlo scenes, is filled with humorous lines and reactions. This comedy is provided by the secondary characters for the most part, the two protagonists remain fairly straight-faced. The humour in the film stands up well today, over seventy years after the film’s initial release.

Rebecca proves just why Hitchcock has been dubbed ‘the master of suspense’. The tension in the film is palpable. The viewer is made to identify with the unnamed Mrs de Winter, gradually finding out about her predecessor at the same time as the audience. Suspense builds to the reveal, which is a superb dramatic set piece.

Rebecca is a great example of what Todorov describes as ‘the fantastic’. From the very beginning, it is made clear that Rebecca has passed away. Yet her presence dominates the film, shadowing every step taken by the new Mrs de Winter. Hitchcock amplifies the aura of mystery surrounding Rebecca by never depicting her, despite the numerous descriptions of her given throughout the film. Despite her absence, the character takes on an otherworldly ubiquity.

Joan Fontaine is great as Mrs de Winter, exhibiting the innocence and awkwardness that the character requires. Lawrence Olivier is suitably brusque and thoroughly convincing as Maxim. Judith Anderson stands out as the unsettling Mrs Danvers, and Florence Bates is glorious in the small comedic role of Mrs Van Hopper.

With its hallmarks of the dark shadows and dramatic castle, Rebecca is every inch the Gothic tale. The film is even more atmospheric on the big screen.

Rebecca was shown at the British Film Institute as part of their Members Select screenings.