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FILM REVIEW: Forget what the other critics say, Rebecca is war, moving and acted brilliantly

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REBECCA (12A), viewed on Netflix

Starring: Lily James, Kristin Scott Thomas and Armie Hammer.

Director: Ben Wheatley, running time: Two hours.

Rebecca (42933319)
Rebecca (42933319)

Critics have not been kind about this 2020 adaptation of Daphne de Mourier’s 1938 Gothic Novel.

The Guardian called it ‘overdressed and underpowered’, the Independent said ‘Armie Hammer and Lily James are like two planks of wood in this dreary, garish adaptation’ and the BBC called it bland.

Which left me wondering whether they’d watched the same, spellbinding, beautiful, thrilling two hours of entertainment I had.

I’ve not seen the 1940 Hitchcock film, and it seems comparison with it is where the critics have gained their ammunition.

I’ve read the book though, but my wife had no knowledge of the story at all, and we were both gripped from start to finish.

The movie follows the novel pretty religiously. After meeting handsome widower Maxim de Winter (Hammer), in Monte Carlo while in service with wealthy American traveller Mrs Van Hopper, a young woman (James) marries him after a secretive, whirlwind romance.

She arrives at her husband’s imposing estate, Manderley, where she is thrust into the role of lady of the house.

Out of her depth and without support or guidance, she tries to adapt to her new situation but finds herself always compared to Maxim’s widow, the beautiful and independent Rebecca, whose memory is kept alive by the housekeeper who adored her – Mrs Danvers (Kristin Scott Thomas.

James portrays the unnamed newly-wed perfectly, from the wide-eyed young woman we meet at the start, to the victimised young wife, right up to the determined fighter she becomes.

Hammer is superb as the 20th Century English gent, stiff upper lipped and yet sensitive, and Scott Thomas excels as the awful Danvers. Think every busybody you’ve ever encountered... she must have studied them all!

The chemistry between James and Hammer is the glue that holds this whole production together as it’s just so believable, making you root for the unconventional couple all the way to the end of the film.

By Jeremy Ransome

Rating: 9/10


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