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  • Writer's pictureGuy Jeffries

My Cousin Rachel Review

Director: Roger Michell

Notting Hill and Changing Lanes director, Roger Michell, gives us his adaptation of the much loved English author, Daphne Du Maurier's novel, My Cousin Rachel that was first published in 1951. It's not the first adaptation; Henry Koster's 1952 version starred Richard Burton and Olivia de Havilland but Du Maurier really did not approve and there was a mini series back in the eighties. The complexities of the plot did warrant a good foundation for a miniseries. Even though it's probably not one of Du Maurier's better known novels versus Rebecca, The Birds and Jamaica Inn, (yes, Hitchcock was obviously a massive a fan of her fiction.) there's quite a legacy with even a walk that's toured along the Cornwall coastline around Du Maurier's hometown of Fowey which obviously provides much of the inspiration for setting the scene.

So how does this new version fare? It's a period romance/mystery/drama that I believe is predominantly set in 17th Century Cornwall on a rich estate left to a young man, Philip by his cousin and guardian Ambrose Ashley who dies under suspicious circumstances, having married an unknown woman, Rachel. The impression of ill play is only enforced by a series of correspondence written and sent by Ashley prior to his death. However, all does not make sense when Philip eventually meets Rachel and his angry and vengeance is replaced with an infatuation that that blindingly sways both his feelings and opinion of his cousin Rachel.

Both Claflin and Weisz both give brilliant performances, both being very convincing and comfortable within their roles. Possibly Weisz having the more challenging part to play due to appearing honest whilst still having a strong aura of mystery. This is what keeps your attention throughout, Weisz's alluring presence and Claflin's growing obsession.

The film is very well balanced where it seesaws continuous between "did she?" And "she didn't." The story is filled with paranoia counterweighted with intrigue all the way to it's bitter end. And even then, after conclusion, you might leave the film with more doubts and questions than what original spawned during the film and your intrigue might demand you to watch it all again.

It's beautifully staged and shot with some intricate pieces using great focus and scope. Though I was actually expecting something more stylistic from what I saw in the trailer, or should I say, the trailer was more alluring and better made. Especially with Ursine Vulpine's amazing cover of Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game" playing over. It made me expect something like a Fifty Shades of Grey set in Victorian Cornwall. It's misleading making me hope for a period drama with some fresh style however what I got was simply a still very good period drama.

It's such a shame because it's well made with great production, yet, probably expected more from Rael Jones' score. I think the trailer poisoned my expectations to level it ruined the overall enjoyment, but fans of period pieces should enjoy. Maybe don't watch the trailer.

Running Time: 7

The Cast: 8

Performance: 8

Direction: 8

Story: 8

Script: 8

Creativity: 8

Soundtrack: 3

Job Description: 3

The Extra Bonus Point: 0

61% 6/10

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