My Cousin Rachel

"OK"

My Cousin Rachel Review


Daphne du Maurier's 1951 mystery-romance novel has been adapted for theatre, radio, TV and film, although the last time it was seen on the big screen was in the 1952 movie starring Olivia De Havilland and Richard Burton. So a new film version isn't a terrible idea, bringing some modern sensibilities to the 19th century tale of obsession and intrigue. It's just a shame that this version, while gorgeous to look at, never quite manages to generate the momentum needed to involve the audience.

It's set in the early 1800s, when Philip (Sam Claflin) has inherited a Cornish farm from his cousin, who died in Italy where he lived with his wife Rachel (Rachel Weisz). Philip is nervous about meeting Rachel, but he's instantly smitten with her dark charm. His godfather Kendall (Iain Glen) warns him to be careful, and Kendall's daughter Louise (Holliday Grainger) is even more horrified by this development, because she has always had a crush on Philip. But as Philip becomes increasingly focussed on Rachel, he offers to give her the farm to prove his love. The question of course is whether she is really in love with him.

My Cousin Rachel

Clues about what Rachel is up to are flung into virtually every scene in the movie, dragging the audience back and forth between seeing her as a wounded widow thankful for the attentions of this hot 25-year-old or perhaps as a conniving scoundrel who is using the same slow-murder technique on him as she used on his cousin. Weisz plays her with plenty of brooding insinuation and wounded charm, keeping the character impossible to read. And Claflin is deeply sympathetic as a hopeless romantic who is sure of this woman's affections. But the to and fro of these characters becomes rather frustrating as the story progresses, mainly because writer-director Roger Michell (Notting Hill) spends more time wrong-footing the audience than creating a story that grips us.

As a result, we kind of lose interest in the main plot, and focus instead on the more intriguing side characters. This means that Glen and Grainger have the most powerful moments, and the film is essentially stolen by marginal players Tim Barlow and Bobby Scott Freeman as amusing servants. But at least the vacuum at the centre leaves us to admire the gorgeous production design, sumptuous cinematography, skilful editing and clever musical score. Not to mention the glorious English countryside. It's just a shame that the story isn't nearly as compelling.

Watch the trailer and a featurette for My Cousin Rachel:



Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Production compaines: Fox Searchlight Pictures, Free Range Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Rachel Ashley, as Philip Ashley, as Louise Kendall, as Ambrose Ashley, Andrew Knott as Joshua, Andrew Havill as Parson Pascoe, Poppy Lee Friar as Mary Pascoe, Vicki Pepperdine as Mrs. Pascoe, Harrie Hayes as Tess, Louis Suc as Philip (12 yrs), Katherine Pearce as Belinda Pascoe, Chris Gallarus as Timothy, Bobby Scott Freeman as John, Tristram Davies as Wellington, Stuart Davidson as Farmer

Contactmusic


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