Starring Lily James, Armie Hammer, Kristin Scott Thomas, Keeley Hawes, Ann Dowd
Four years after his previous outing, Free Fire, Ben Wheatley has released his adaptation of Dame Daphne du Maurier's 1930's gothic novel, Rebecca on Netflix. It's a story that tells of a young woman quickly falling for, and marrying, a wealthy widower, and then spending most of the subsequent screen time regretting that decision. Going in to this movie I was excited to see what Ben Wheatley would do with the material as it seemed a big departure from his previous work. Equally, having decided to not watch the Hitchcock version first, I was expecting tension, intrigue and plenty of action! Having come out the other side though, it didn't completely match up to what I was expecting.
The opening act is full of grandeur. The style and cinematography is brilliant and seems to capture the era while still having something new to say. I really enjoyed the time in sunny Europe and it felt like a confident director trying something new. Everything happened so quickly that when we arrive at the de Winter's residence in Mandalay. It feels as though we are only just getting started. But the arrival at the manor is actually where the problems began.
My main problem with this movie is the script. It all feels a little bit GCSE and underdeveloped. There are some great performances here; most notably Kristin Scott Thomas who plays a wicked Mrs Danvers. You feel she would be right at home in a Hitchcock picture and does brilliantly. That being said, what she has been given to work with doesn't allow her to develop, so by the final act all she really becomes is the shadow of another character and I felt she didn't really get the chance to shine as herself.
On that note, Rebecca herself is quite obviously thought highly of but the approach to her absence is dealt with in a linear way. What could have been a tense, psychological horror, ends up being more Downtown Abbey than The Shining.
All that being said, I enjoyed the movie for what it was. It's good to see a director get a good budget to go in a different direction and although it didn't hit the mark in every way, it's a middle of the road drama that's pretty to look at.
Rebbeca available now on Netflix