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MY COUSIN RACHEL (2017)

SYNOPSIS:
A young Englishman (Sam Claflin) plots revenge against his mysterious, beautiful cousin (Rachel Weisz), believing that she murdered his guardian. But his feelings become complicated as he finds himself falling under her spell.

Review by Louise Keller:
Obsession is the theme of this fine adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's classic tale in which resentment and jealousy turns into infatuation and unbridled passion. Director Roger Michell (Notting Hill) has crafted a visually beautiful film whose adept screenplay delves into the complex relationship between the impressionable protagonist and the worldly Rachel of the title. Suspicion prickles from the outset as to the Rachel's intentions in this cinematic, tense and engrossing film. While this romance cum psychological thriller may not offer the potency of the 1952 black and white film version starring Olivia de Havilland and a young, handsome Richard Burton, My Cousin Rachel is nonetheless an alluring interlude.

Did she; didn't she; who's to blame? These are the first words we hear, as spoken by Sam Claflin's Philip, who shuns books, the city and smart conversation in exchange for his rural home in 19th century England. The scene is succinctly set as we meet Philip, the young Englishman with a strong connection to his guardian uncle Ambrose.

Like Philip we become bewitched by Rachel (Rachel Weisz) from the moment she comes to stay. She is beautiful and extremely feminine: unlike any woman that Philip has ever met. He is oblivious to the fact that Louise (Holliday Grainger), his childhood friend has feelings for him. Everyone is drawn to Rachel: the dogs, the servants...

Claflin perfectly displays all the vulnerabilities of Philip as his initial antagonism to Rachel turns first to admiration and then obsession. Weisz is excellent, but far too likeable: Rachel should be far more enigmatic. It is with fascination that we watch the relationship between Philip and Rachel develop slowly in the lead up to its inevitable consummation. Money and jewels matter. Watch for the scene when Philip gives Rachel the pearl necklace - the prize of the collection.

Production design, costumes and the dramatic Cliffside Surrey locations all work beautifully and I like Rael Jones' music score with its questioning musical phrases that reiterate the questions we mentally ask ourselves over and over throughout: did she; didn't she; who's to blame? I enjoyed the film but longed for a darker, more nebulous journey.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

MY COUSIN RACHEL (2017) (M)
(UK/ US, 2017)

CAST: Rachel Weisz, Sam Claflin, Pierfrancesco Favino, Iain Glen, Holliday Grainger

PRODUCER: Kevin Loader

DIRECTOR: Roger Michell

SCRIPT: Roger Michell (adapted from novel by Daphne du Maurier)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Mike Eley

EDITOR: Kristina Hetherington

MUSIC: Rael Jones

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Alice Normington

RUNNING TIME: 106 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 8, 2017







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