Saturday, 24 June 2017

My Cousin Rachel (12A)

Before we start discussing this film, I feel there is something I should disclose something.

I have, in the past, been in abusive relationships, and have been subjected to both physical and mental abuse.

I don't say this to garner any pity or sympathy, rather to flag up that such a background could impact how you view My Cousin Rachel.

Based on the Daphne Du Maurier novel, it tells the tale of a man who falls for his cousin's widow - who may or may not have killed her husband.

Much of the post film chatter has focused on the whole 'did she, didn't she' aspect of the movie, which is something I'm not really able to engage with as I came to my own conclusions very early on.

And I can't decide if my own experiences led me to my conclusion, or if there were less-than-subtle signifiers through the film.

In a recent interview, the film's star - Rachel Weisz - said she had made her own decision before filming began, thus shaping how she portrayed the central character.

And, I have to say, she plays Rachel perfectly.

She is at once strong and vulnerable, and if it wasn't for her there really would be no need to watch this film.

Not that it's a bad movie - it's perfectly fine, and very well directed - it's just that it's too long and more than a smidge dull in parts.

Part of the problem lies with Sam Clafin.

As Philip, who got taken in by his cousin as a child and grows up to inherit the estate, the film is pretty much seen through his eyes.

It is he who suspects Rachel. It is he who then falls for Rachel. It is he who goes on to fear he is being poisoned by her.

The only problem is, he has absolutely no screen presence.

He utterly fails to convince as a man being torn apart by his emotional conflicts, instead coming across as a child having a tantrum.

And this is where the film falls down.

Up against Weisz's performance, you need someone equally as strong, as commanding, who can hold their own during the dance of the relationship.

As it is, he's the wettest thing in this film - a film which features several downpours and soggy sheep.

He's even out-acted by Tim Barlow's Seecombe, whose role is to literally stay in the background and mumble yes and no.

And this is nothing short of criminal.

Because away from him, this is a good film.

It looks stunning, the indoor scenes are sumptuous as are the landscapes, there are some genuinely gripping moments and a few chuckles and laughs.

Somewhere in here is a dark, tense tale of obsession and passion.

Sadly, on exiting the cinema you are left wondering which field they left it in.

Think I might go back and give the Richard Burton version a go...

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