My Cousin Rachel: film review

Film image taken from IMDB

This week I saw My Cousin Rachel (2017) at a Silver Screening at the Odeon. To anyone who is able to see movies in the week, I strongly recommend these. We got free tea, coffee and biscuits and the tickets were only £3! (I’m not being sponsored here in any way, it’s genuinely a really good deal).

My Cousin Rachel was directed by Roger Michell, and is an adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier’s novel.  The lead character of Rachel is played flawlessly by Rachel Weisz and Philip is played by Sam Claflin. Philip, an orphaned boy taken in by his cousin, Ambrose, after his parents’ death, seeks revenge against his cousin’s wife after Ambrose’s mysterious death, believing that she was responsible.

Sam Claflin plays Philip beautifully; that said, I have never seen him in a film that he hadn’t fully committed to the character. The supporting cast is excellent, and help to keep the spirit alive in what could otherwise have been a very slow film. Look out for the character of Louise, a respectable young lady obviously in love with Philip. She comes across as meek and gentle (as a lady was supposed to be in the 19th century in which the film is set), but there is an edge to her that made me wonder if she was more instrumental to the plot than I first thought.

In many ways, this film is a who-dunnit, as we sway from one scene to the next, believing and then not believing that Rachel was responsible for Ambrose’s death. Philip becomes increasingly agitated by his obsession with Rachel, both loving and hating her. Without spoiling anything, I will say that even as the film ended, I still wasn’t certain who was being truthful and how Rachel really felt about Philip.

At its essence, this is a love story. As Philip begins to fall for the enigmatic Rachel, we all fall with him, hoping that his love for her will not be his downfall. Our worry increases as we see various snippets here and there that Rachel has a history of wanton spending and a “limitless appetite” for everything, including lovers. This is a quintessentially British film, and bar one scene, most of the film’s scandal is conveyed through hushed voices and raised eyebrows.

There are some interesting points in this film about how women were viewed in the eyes of the law and inherited property in the 19th century. Others may not find this aspect interesting, but as a law student I really did. I’m pleased that the law has drastically changed since then!

The film is an enjoyable historical romance that keeps you interested to the dramatic end. This is not a ground-breaking movie, but is nonetheless fun. It’s a perfect Sunday afternoon movie with the ladies in your life.

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