Friday, June 09, 2017

My Cousin Rachel: an unexpectedly captivating period whodunit

After two days of hosting talks at the Data Studio as part of the Digital DNA conference and in the middle of election week, I hadn’t done any homework when I sat down in the Movie House Dublin Road to watch the preview of My Cousin Rachel. And my English Literature studies were cut far short of reaching Daphne du Maurier’s 1951 novel.

The title conjured up the notion of a soppy romcom that I’d ultimately regret attending. So when the lights went down and a period drama with more cousins that I could count unravelled on screen it was quite a shock.

Philip (played by Sam Claflin) receives a letter from Italy written by his dying guardian (a cousin) alleging maltreatment by his wife (another cousin). Despite travelling post haste, Sam arrives too late to see Ambrose before the brain tumour kills him. When the widowed Rachel (Rachel Weisz) comes to England – about twenty minutes inot the 106 minute long film – Sam is deeply suspicious and plots revenge. But he slowly falls under her spell and his perhaps ill-informed preconceptions melt away.

Weisz injects a vulnerability into the stuttering Rachel who continually turning away from whatever behaviour you expect her to portray. The dialogue feels like it has been lifted straight from the pages of the novel. The colour of steeds feels symbolic. The osculatory sound effects are remarkably noisy.

Infatuation. Disappointment. Benevolence. Scheming. One of the final scenes had everything needed to kick off of a new season of Broadchurch.

Written and directed by Roger Michell, My Cousin Rachel is an unexpectedly captivating period whodunit that swerves away from becoming a revenge thriller but keep the audience guessing about the central characters’ motives right up to the end.

Released on Friday 9 June, you can catch My Cousin Rachel in Movie House cinemas as well as the Queen’s Film Theatre, Odeon, Odyssey and the Omniplex chain.

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