Sunday, July 9, 2017

Movie Review … My Cousin Rachel

The best types of stories are those keeping you guessing.  After a book’s final page has turned or a movie has finished, if their tale stays with you it’s a mark of how well it was told.  Based on Daphne du Maurier’s 1951 book, ‘My Cousin Rachel’ is such an entity.  That shouldn’t be surprising given how many of du Maurier’s books have been successfully adapted for screens.  From ‘Rebecca’ to ‘Don’t Look Now’, her gift for psychological thrills is evident in this second movie version of ‘My Cousin Rachel’. 

When his cousin dies in mysterious circumstances, Phillip (Sam Claflin) seeks to uncover the truth.  Suspicious of his late cousin’s wife Rachel (Rachel Weisz), Phillip integrates himself into her life.  Initially wanting to expose her as a gold-digging opportunist, Philip swiftly becomes entranced by her bewitching manner.   Events take a sinister turn when letters surface showing Rachel in a bad light.  Questioning his line of thought, Phillip tries to solve the mystery plaguing his family once and for all.

A very well written and directed film ‘My Cousin Rachel’ can be appreciated on several levels.  Laced with romance, drama and suspense, it’s an engrossing film about deception and how the mind can be manipulated by the slightest action. Is Rachel really innocent?  Is she hiding something? Is someone else casting suspicion on her?  These questions remain tantalising for the viewer to solve with new revelations effectively changing character perceptions.

‘My Cousin Rachel’ succeeds due to Roger Michell’s astute direction and great performances.  Claflin makes for a fine hero whilst Weisz shines as the mysterious Rachel.  Her role is crucial in blending the tough sweetness it requires.  Weisz skilfully carries it off with her co-stars rising to the challenge of balancing the mystery without giving the game away too quickly.  The cinematography is also excellent, adding genuine atmosphere and making use of its historical setting well.

Whilst occasionally slow, ‘My Cousin Rachel’ is a generally solid adaptation of a still captivating book.  It makes you think long after the credits have faded.  That’s a good thing in this era of mindless cinematic drudgery with more film versions of du Maurier’s works more than welcome.

Movie Review Rating out of 10:  7

Movie Review by Patrick Moore

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Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at movie releases in Australia.



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