Sunday, January 3, 2021


Movie Name:
Year of Release: 2020
Director: Ben Wheatley
Starring: Lily James, Armie Hammer, Kristin Scott Thomas, Ann Dowd, Keeley Hawes, Sam Riley, Tom Goodman-Hill, Bill Patterson, Mark Lewis Jones, Ashleigh Reynolds, Bryony Miller, Ben Crompton, John Hollingworth, Jane Lapotaire, Colin Bennett
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 5
View Trailer

Synopsis and Review:
Acclaimed British director Ben Wheatley has followed his "Happy New Year, Colin Burstead" with his first bigger budget endeavor, an adaptation of Daphe du Maurier's book, "Rebecca". The book property and its previous adaptation is of course well known for also being Alfred Hitchcock's first American film (premiered in 1940), which went on to win the Academy Award for best picture, on top of other numerous accolades. This adaptation, which is fairly faithful to the novel, takes place in the 30s/40s and finds the heroine meeting Maxim de Winter in Monte Carlo, while working as a companion for Mrs. Van Hopper. They are attracted to each other, and she soon learns Maxim is a widower. After a brief courtship, Maxim proposes to her, which she promptly accepts. After the wedding and the honeymoon, they return to Maxim's property in Cornwall, Manderley. The property is run by the strict Mrs. Danvers, who the heroine quickly discovers, continues to be immensely devoted to Maxim's first wife, Rebecca. Everywhere she goes, Mrs. de Winter becomes aware of how popular, beautiful and loved Rebecca was, including by Maxim's family, namely his grandmother. As Mrs. de Winter progressively realizes Mrs. Danvers is sabotaging her presence in the house, she also comes to terms with the fact that there's more to the whole story of Rebecca's death, than what initially was reported.
This adaptation of "Rebecca" manages to be stylish and also feel a bit rushed/unpolished. The film successfully builds up the relationship between Maxim and the unnamed heroine, with Mrs. de Winter character herself going through an actual arc through the entire narrative. We're firstly introduced to the character when she's under the oppressive authority of her American employer, and we witness how she flourishes with the attention of Maxim, only to fall under yet again, under the oppression of someone's presence, which comes in the shape of both Mrs. Danvers and the ghost of Rebecca. Towards the third act, the character finds an inner strength to fight for her wants and desires, which in reality makes her journey the most interesting one. Sadly for the supporting characters they're very much played in one register alone, including the immensely talented Kristin Scott Thomas and the always great Armie Hammer. Mrs. Danvers and her icy demeanor never truly cracks, while Maxim while anguished by guilt, never really acts as someone enamored. There are aspects to the film that are quite compelling, namely the detail about Maxim sleepwalking and the nightmares which plague the new Mrs. de Winter, however those are never really taken anywhere. Towards the third act, the film rushes into a criminal hunt, which robs the narrative of the crescendo which was building towards. Ultimately for all its style, it lacks some actual dramatic heft, one that takes it away from soap opera territory. Lily James manages to create a good character, even if lacks some nuance. The cinematography by Laurie Rose is fantastic, as is the score of the terrific Clint Mansell. While not a terrible film, it's not a memorable adaptation.