My Cousin Rachel

Review by David Jenkins @daveyjenkins

Directed by

Roger Michell

Starring

Iain Glen Rachel Weisz Sam Claflin

Anticipation.

Rachel Weisz is on a major roll at the moment, so this new starring vehicle could be interesting.

Enjoyment.

Not the most interesting or likely of stories, but a scintillating lead turn.

In Retrospect.

Can someone please write a good movie for Rachel Weisz?

Roger Michell’s plush adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s mystery romance novel fails to leave a lasting impression.

Someone should make an infographic, or some kind of sprawling visual chart, which details all the times that the actor Rachel Weisz has been better than the movie in which she’s starring. It seems par for the course so say of her work, “she was fantastic – didn’t think much of the film, though.”

And so it goes with Roger Michell’s My Cousin Rachel, a respectable (and nothing more) adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s quaint noir novel from 1951 about a lovestruck country squire who choses to cede his fortune to a mysterious, bewitching relative. There are light feminist undertones to this twisting tale, but Michell is certain to let the audience know whose side they should be on.

He tries so hard to tease out the ambiguities from the material that you can almost see him stroking chin and twirling is moustache in satisfaction. Characters lope through cluttered mansions, doled out in impenetrable corsets and decorative waistcoats. Sam Claflin holds his own as the wide-eyed cuckold Phillip, who is so instantly smitten by his cousin Rachel (Weisz), he is willing to entirely overlook the fact that she may have played a part in the unexplained death of his beloved guardian and benefactor, Ambrose.

Coiled passions eventually come to a head as schemes are uncovered and outside interests revealed. Everyone involved puts in a solid turn, especially Holliday Grainger, retaining a pained, rictus smile as Phillip’s spurned sweetheart. But the reality is, Weisz acts everyone else off the screen. She can do more with a pause and a harried glance than most actors can do with a five pages of meaty monologue.

She’s maybe not the most naturalistic of actors, but her meticulous, classical method is often a wonder to behold. As this wannabe ripe melodrama peters into its staid final stretches, you’re left to ponder what mediocre film Weisz will light up next.

Published 7 Jun 2017

Tags: Daphne Du Maurier Rachel Weisz

Anticipation.

Rachel Weisz is on a major roll at the moment, so this new starring vehicle could be interesting.

Enjoyment.

Not the most interesting or likely of stories, but a scintillating lead turn.

In Retrospect.

Can someone please write a good movie for Rachel Weisz?

Read More

Denial

By Trevor Johnston

Rachel Weisz rails against Nazi apologists in this sturdy court room drama for the ‘post-truth’ age.

review

How Daphne Du Maurier became Hitchcock’s favourite author

By Iris Veysey

Her novels ‘The Birds’ and ‘Rebecca’ provided the perfect blend of moral complexity and Gothic drama.

The Lobster

By Trevor Johnston

Director Yorgos Lanthimos proves he’s still got plenty left up his sleeve with this dark dystopic satire.

review

What are you looking for?

Little White Lies Logo

About Little White Lies

Little White Lies was established in 2005 as a bi-monthly print magazine committed to championing great movies and the talented people who make them. Combining cutting-edge design, illustration and journalism, we’ve been described as being “at the vanguard of the independent publishing movement.” Our reviews feature a unique tripartite ranking system that captures the different aspects of the movie-going experience. We believe in Truth & Movies.

Editorial

Design