My Cousin Rachel - This Dark Cornish Romantic Thriller Of A Movie Just About Rocks
Dir: Roger Michell
Starring Rachel Weisz, Sam Claflin, Iain Glenn, Holiday Grainger
As writer-director, Roger Michell brings a distinct lived-in edge to his adaptation of Daphne du Maurier dark romantic thriller. Yes, it may be a costume drama but the frocks are frayed at the edges, as may well be the people. The location – Cornwall – is equally wild and windswept, as young Philip (an excellent Claflin) struggles to come to terms with the arrival of Rachel (Weisz), the returning widow of his mentor and cousin Ambrose, who imparted to young Philip that he believed his wife was slowly poisoning him so to beguile her way into his inheritance. Philip is all set to disavow her – until he sets eyes on her. And from there on in begins a game that is less cat and mouse, than cat appears to have mouse just where she wants him…
Michell’s film manages to make relative desolation look strangely sumptuous in a cold monochromatic way. Which is a perfect compliment for his heroine, the beautifully well judged and unpredictable Weisz. It’s a performance that manages to say more by saying little, reflecting on her character’s standing in the society she quietly struggles to rise above and – very possibly – make her own.
This of course lends the film a modern subtext that all are clearly aware of, allowing the film to never feel trapped by its own cinematic conventions, much in the way that Rachel defies those around her.
The chemistry is strong between the two leads and whilst it is better at keeping you guessing that facing up to its denouncement, this will keep you involved just about right to the end.
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