My Cousin Rachel

My Cousin Rachel

(2017)

Rachel Weisz and Sam Claflin star in writer-director Roger Michell's (Notting Hill) adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier's classic novel. Co-stars Game of Thrones's Iain Glen.... More

A young Englishman (Claflin) plots revenge against his mysterious and beautiful cousin (Weisz), believing that she murdered his guardian. But his feelings become complicated as he finds himself falling under the beguiling spell of her charms.Hide

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BY cinemusefilm superstar

Ever since the Daphne Du Maurier novel appeared in 1951 debate has raged over the guilt or innocence of the titular heroine in the 19th century romantic thriller My Cousin Rachel (2017). This latest and deliciously filmed adaptation might have sided with modern-day feminism but instead leaves Rachel in the dock of history, forever to be interrogated for her intelligent femininity.

The basic plotline is well known. Young Phillip (Sam Claflin) is just shy of his 25th birthday when he learns that... More his beloved aging guardian uncle has suddenly married a younger woman called Rachel (Rachel Weisz). Instead of expressing marital bliss, his uncle’s letters soon accuse Rachel of foul play and plead for Phillip to visit quickly. On his arrival, Phillip learns of his uncle’s death and Rachel’s departure. As heir to the estate, he takes up the running of the farms and vows vengeance if she ever returns. In due course she does, but instead of rage Phillip is immediately and hopelessly infatuated with the beautifully beguiling Rachel. For him it’s love, but for her it’s more a dalliance between an older woman and a younger man. Omitted from his uncle’s will, she is a woman without means and rumours of excessive spending and clandestine meetings plant wild seeds of doubt in Phillip’s impressionable mind. Believing she will consent to marry, he instructs his lawyer to transfer the estate to Rachel and his emotional world spirals into chaos.

This film enthrals not just for its adaptation of a classic novel but more for its filming and acting. The Cornwall setting and estate are beautifully captured in sweeping panoramas, and the costumes and interior sets are what you expect from a top-shelf British production. But it is the Claflin-Weisz emotional dynamic that is the essence of this film. As soon as Phillip sets eyes on Rachel he is her captive and the tension between them is both taut and turbulent. His chiselled Welsh good looks and youthful exuberance convincingly express everything from rapture to pained doubt, while the self-possessed Rachel coolly flirts with him as a flattered woman or a conniving trickster might do. The exquisite tease of this film is that we, the audience, are left together with Phillip, not knowing if Rachel is an evil or honest woman. Whether or not you have read the novel, this superbly produced Gothic tale is one the best period dramas of the year.Hide


The Press Reviews

  • Female characters are seldom allowed to loom so large, and "My Cousin Rachel" reminds what a delight it can be when they do. Full Review

  • ...there's enough dark sizzle between leads Rachel Weisz and Sam Claflin to keep the audience involved through the underpowered middle stretches before the film regains its footing, delivering a disquieting shiver of a conclusion. Full Review

  • A fresh and un-stuffy period drama, but it could have done with a pinch more danger. Full Review

  • Rachel Weisz's wily-or-winsome widow crackles with dangerous allure, but can't gee up this sedate mystery. Full Review

  • Weisz shows her Oscar-winning talents by hitting precisely the right notes throughout My Cousin Rachel: from warmth to guile to chilly practicality. Full Review

  • Weisz runs the gamut of emotions even when the script backs her into corners of banality. She's the reason this old-school nailbiter brims with dread and delight. Full Review

  • Handsomely done but short on the atmosphere and passion of a genre classic. Michell is a safe pair of hands but it doesn’t grip tightly, while Claflin’s chemistry with Weisz fizzles. Full Review