A young Englishman plots revenge against his late cousin's mysterious, beautiful wife, believing her responsible for his death. But his feelings become complicated as he finds himself falling under the beguiling spell of her charms.
Philip, an orphan, was taken in and brought up by his cousin Ambrose, a Devon landowner he loves like a father. At a time, Ambrose, who has been advised by his physician a warmer climate, leaves for Tuscany. There he meets and marry Rachel, a half-Italian cousin of his. After an idyllic outset, the situation deteriorates. Shortly before his death, Ambrose manages to alert Philip: his wife is killing him slowly. Willing to sort out the truth, Philip goes to Ambrose's place but he does not find Rachel, who has gone away. Instead he meets Rainaldi, her friend and lawyer, who does not inspire him with confidence. He returns to his estate, persuaded that Rachel is evil and is the direct cause of Ambrose's death. Some time later, Rachel announces her coming. Determined to welcome her coolly, he is stunned to discover a woman not only beautiful but elegant, intelligent and sensitive. Instead of strangling her like he said he would, he falls in love. Madly.Written by
A damn good costume drama based on novel by Daphne du Maurier published in 1951. It's the third big screen adaptation so far – this time from the creative mind of Roger Mitchell, the director still best known for 1999's romantic comedy Notting Hill". Mitchell felt so sure of his classic adapating abilities that he also wrote the screenplay which he hasn't tried before (at least it's the man's first writing credit in IMDb). And the double job is well done, too, the movie feels exemplary and enjoyable in every aspect. So, about the mysterious Rachel, played by Rachel Weisz following in Olivia de Havilland's and Geraldine Chaplin's footsteps. A fine woman can drive men wild, and all the more so in the world of 19th century rich Englishmen who are used to getting all the fine things they desire. Philip (Sam Claflin) dislikes her at first, believing she is responsible for his guardian's and best friend's death whom she was married to. But the radiant widow wins him over in no time, the boy falls hard for her, and then we can only hope to figure out what Rachel is really after. Also playing: Iain Glen, Holliday Grainger, Pierfrancesco Favino et al. If you ask me, a quality costume drama needs to look beautiful and offer good acting above all else, and My Cousin Rachel" delivers both in abundance. The visual side is noticeably good-looking without trying to steal the attention from actors or story – all the English countryside almost feels like an important character in its own right. And the cast plays superbly, the central place belonging to Sam Claflin whose competent and nuanceful performance is a joy to witness and carries the story well. Until Rachel enters, of course – Weisz has so much elegance, flame and sheer physical presence that it's easy to buy her as a mystery woman winning people over instantly wherever she goes. Her character is supposed to intrigue and make us question her true motives till the end, which could easily turn the result into a mediocre B-thriller with lesser actress involved. But Weisz stays classy, natural, and charming however the story twists and turns and depicts the character. In conclusion, I have nothing bad to say about the movie. It's not always perfect, some developments could have been played out to offer emotional impact, and the final chapter of the story feels perhaps rushed. But I really liked everything the makers did with the material, and I especially applaud the choice to stay subtle and not turn the dramatics up to 11 just because they could have. For example, there's no epic" finale or steamy sensual scenes just to win over some more of that mainstream public. Not that the result isn't sensual.
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