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
I admire Daphne du Maurier's 'Rebecca' and Hitchcock's film, as well as her short stories; also, I love Roger Michell's 'Notting Hill'. So I really wanted to enjoy this film.
It has its strong points: it's a pervasive mystery combined with a complicated love story, it's beautifully shot in a period setting and the action in a sense turns full circle quite satisfyingly. The acting by Rachel Weisz as Rachel and Sam Claflin as Philip is generally quite engaging, too. There are even a couple of jokes: Rachel makes one about a smoking room for women and, when called a 'stickler' by Philip, his lawyer Mr Crouch (Simon Russell Beale) retorts that he will 'stickle'.
Unfortunately the film's pace was too slow for me. It held my attention, paradoxically, because I was waiting for a decisive moment. There are numerous pregnant pauses in the dialogue but I would say there's very little emotional intensity or mounting suspense.
Of course I wasn't expecting an action movie (not a favourite genre of mine), but I believe the film could have done du Maurier more justice. It might have been more interesting if one character had been developed: Rachel's friend Rainaldi (Pierfrancesco Favino). He is enigmatic and she hints at his sexuality, but that is all. I still want to read the novel.
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