Thanks to 20th Century Fox we had the chance to see ‘My Cousin Rachel’ before its national release. This is our review of the movie, but as usual, no matter what we say, we still recommend you to go and see it at your local cinema because there is no better critic than yourself!

“My Cousin Rachel” is the film adaption of Daphne du Maurier’s classic novel. Du Maurier (author of Rebecca, The Birds) is a master of fear, suspense and unpredictability – the film definitely delivers.

Set in the 19th Century, the film centres on Phillip Ashley (Sam Claflin) a young man returning home from school to his cousin’s large country estate. His cousin, Ambrose, has raised him since he was a boy. After Phillip returns home he finds a letter from Ambrose, who has recently died. The letter is a warning that Ambrose’s wife Rachel (Rachel Weisz) is to blame for his illness by slowly poisoning him. Distraught, Phillip sends for Rachel to be brought to the estate so he can confront her. Not before long he finds himself infatuated…

“My Cousin Rachel” is a slow paced and tension driven film. The film perfectly captures the 19th century English context with intricate costumes, lavish sets and beautiful shots of the English countryside. This is coupled with dark and foreboding undertones as the character of Rachel remains an image of intrigue and mystery to both the audience and Phillip. The film’s ability to prolong an eerier and menacing current throughout its duration is a true rarity, it would have been easy for the underlying themes to be lost in the costumes and setting.

The film’s casting of Rachel Weisz to play Rachel is perfect. Weisz plays Rachel with a perfect balance of kindness with slight glimpses of menace. The character of Rachel is complex as she is not portrayed as evil, more as a woman trying to survive. Rachel has true moments of kindness and sorrow, coupled with her lavish spending and mysterious friends. Her sexual manipulation of Phillip creates a shadow of doubt in the mind of the audience. It is an ambiguous film and refreshingly different as it challenges the audience to think.

All characters in the film are not without faults. The film raises many questions in relation to possession and power which are beautifully played out. Philip believes as a man it is his right to possess Rachel, as he often throws tantrums when he doesn’t get what he wants. As for Rachel, a woman in her position and time period, she uses her sexuality as her means of power and control.

“My Cousin Rachel” comes with a high recommendation, its eerie and menacing feel holds viewers’ attention. The film presents the situation as not black or white but shows the many shades of grey. It makes for more realistic viewing as the characters are not portrayed as either good or evil.

In cinemas now

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