MY COUSIN RACHEL – Now showing.
DIRECTED BY: Roger Michell (Notting Hill)
CAST: Sam Claflin (Their Finest, Hunger Games), Rachel Weisz (Enemy At The Gates, Denial, The Light Between Oceans).
WRITTEN BY: Daphne DuMaurier, adapted for screen by Roger Michell
Young, 19th century country gentleman, Philip Ashley (Claflin), was orphaned and raised by his beloved cousin and guardian Ambrose, on the large Cornish estate that would become his on his 25th birthday. Beset by persistent illness a few years earlier, Ambrose must depart for the Mediterranean warmth of Italy, where he meets Rachel, a cousin to them both. He falls in love with her but dies under hazy circumstances, setting the dark tone for Rachel and Philip’s meeting, with him vowing to have it out with her when she arrives.
The story progresses a little slowly, with Michell’s skilful direction inferring things, about relationships especially, without openly stating them. One in particular was Philip’s naïve and lovelorn blindness to potential manipulation, on different levels and from different quarters.
The film maintains a dark edge of hopeful tension throughout. Considered in light of the time the novel was published (1951) it skilfully begs the question throughout of whether Rachel is hiding some evil designs, or is she just a wilful woman, daring to do as she wishes, rather than deferring to the men who would direct her life. Thus, depending on your interpretation and if you feel a need to decide, you could see it as either a gothic thriller or a feminist tragedy.
Written by English novelist Daphne Du Maurier (Rebecca, The Birds, Jamaica Inn), MY COUSIN RACHEL was first adapted for the screen in 1952, starring Richard Burton and Olivia De Havilland.