Friday, June 9
REVIEW: My Cousin Rachel
Directed by Roger Michell
2017 Romance Drama
1 hour 46 minutes
From Fox Searchlight
I always feel a little twitchy, I guess, when doing reviews on films based on classics. People usually like these kinds of films or they don't and anything I say isn't going to make much difference. As a result of that, of course, this won't be one of my most-read postings because those minds are already made up. And if it's a classic you've actually read, then really, what's to read here?
I actually have not read this classic nor have I seen the 1952 Olivia de Havilland-Richard Burton version or the British miniseries some years later. Despite reading some classics in school, Daphne du Maurier (or Jane Austen for that matter) was not have among them. So, I came to this film with not a lot of preconceived notions about the material or the plot.
What I do know is this... I love English period stuff and I love watching and listening to British actors. And I shall continue ponying up some matinee coins to see what's yet to come. But I would be remiss to not add that most of the time I see these types of films, a day later I can hardly remember much (even when I've reviewed them here) beyond the impeccable manners, the beautiful locales, the hoop skirts and morning suits. Most of the stories are a bit antiseptic, perhaps, and when one comes along that provides all the eye-catching delights I cherish and has a story I can chew on a bit more, I am pleased. My Cousin Rachel pleased me. For one thing, it's darker than most of this type. There is mystery involved and characters may not all be what you think they'll be, so I was intrigued.
For the uninformed (and remember, I was one of you a mere three hours ago), this is a classy tale of revenge. Of course, I'm not going to tell you a lot (that would just be too mean) but let's say this: it's not really my cousin Rachel but my cousin through marriage Rachel. Young Philip has never met her despite the fact that she is married to his favorite relative, an older cousin who actually raised him. When the husband dies, Philip believes the widow is somehow to blame. He doesn't trust her.
A will has left the property to Philip. He decides to move in and allow Rachel to continue living there as well so he can better figure out how it's all come down. We know, however, that he already suspects the worst. What Philip doesn't see coming is falling in love with her.
By no means is it a perfect film. The Rachel character makes a change in motivation that was much too sudden and unexplained for my tastes, as usual for these types of films I couldn't always understand what was said and there might have been a little slowness somewhere in the beginning. The ending, on the other hand, had a lot of clout.
Philip, is actually the primary character. He is on screen from start to finish and it is his point of view we are fed. How nice that the actor filling the part did such a good job... a big yay to Claflin. I loved his facial expressions as he listened. But let's be clear, I love his face... period. What a handsome man. I first saw him in Me Before You and hoped I'd see him again. Because I'm given to recasting films, even as I watch them, I couldn't help but think of what Henry Cavill would have brought to this role. But then I thought how easy on the eyes Claflin is and how he tagged all the bases as Philip.
Oscar-winning Weisz, too, registered well in a less showy part but she projected the grace and inscrutability that was necessary. How nice it is to see the age difference between the leads where she is the older one for a change (by 16 years) and not much was made of it.
Iain Glen as the family solicitor and Holliday Grainger as his daughter who loves Philip were a perfect fit for the proceedings.
I think it's fair to say if you think you'll like this type of film, you probably will. And if you think you won't, you surely won't.
For me, is was just bloody nice to get out to a movie. It's been a while and that's not good.
And Then I Wrote