Rebecca (2020) Review

While it tries to be dark and creepy, it just kind of falls flat and lacks any real emotion.  A bit of a disappointment.

Certificate: 12A

Director: Ben Wheatley

Screenwriter: Jane Goldman, Joe Shrapnel

Starring: Lily James, Armie Hammer, Kristin Scott Thomas

Genre: Drama, Mystery

Runtime: 121 Minutes

Rating: 2.5 Stars

Reviewed by: Pearl

After a whirlwind romance in Monte Carlo with handsome widower Maxim de Winter (Armie Hammer), a newly married young woman (Lily James) arrives at Manderley, her new husband’s imposing family estate on a windswept English coast. Naive and inexperienced, she begins to settle into the trappings of her new life, but finds herself battling the shadow of Maxim’s first wife, the elegant and urbane Rebecca, whose haunting legacy is kept alive by Manderley’s sinister housekeeper Mrs. Danvers (Kristin Scott Thomas). Written by Netflix

It would have been a mistake to go into this film comparing it to the Alfred Hitchcock masterpiece of the same name, based of the same source material.  There was no way this was going to compare to that.  But I don’t feel that this even lives up to it’s source material.  They take a lot of liberties with the characters, especially with Mrs Danvers the housekeeper.  She becomes a much more major character then she is in the book, and has a much more poignant ending as well. 

The relationship between the new Mrs De Winter and Max is shown here to be much more healthy than it should have done.  They get married and movie back to his large home after knowing each other for a week.  He has a quick temper and regardless of what he says repeatedly, clearly still hanging onto the memory of Rebecca.  Even if it isn’t for the reasons we think.  And when the truth finally does come out, his new Mrs de Winter is probably the most understanding woman in  the world.

While all the performances were great, as you would expect from a cast like this.  The plot and dialogue don’t give them much to work with.  Lily James’ character isn’t even given a name here and all of the decisions she makes in this film are just awful.  She is very passive and naïve, making her borderline boring.  I spent a lot of the time wishing I could give her a good shake. 

Visually the film is amazing, a lot of beautiful shots and beautiful set pieces mean that although the plot and dialogue are very flat, the film is enjoyable to look at.  The scenes at the masquerade ball are particularly beautiful.  But all these stunning visuals are not enough to make the film engaging.  A bit of a let down all round I’m afraid.

If you do want to check this out for yourself ‘Rebecca’ is streaming now on Netflix.

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