The thriller legend in persona, Sir Alfred Hitchcock directed Rebecca in 1940 – he apparently hated the film. Now Netflix is producing a remake of the thriller classic..
The film script is based on the novel (of the same name) by Daphne Du Maurier, and has been filmed countless times, including as a TV series starring Charles Dance in 1997. This year’s version is closely related to the Hitchcock film, but lacks it the creepy horror and finesse of «Master of Suspense».
Like a stormy, romantic, whirlwind, the stone-rich charmer Maxim de Winter (Armie Hammer) sweeps the naive party girl (Lily James) off the field during a holiday stay in luxurious Monte Carlo. After being insulted and degraded by the arrogant socialite Mrs. Van Hopper (Ann “The Handmaid’s Tale” Dowd), her life takes a completely different direction when she marries the cookie cutter with her magnificent estate in England.
But on the luxurious estate, “Manderley”, it’s all about Winters’ late ex-wife, the unique Rebecca – and the new Mrs. Winter is completely in the shadow of her “predecessor”, while the staff, with icy Mrs. Danvers (Kristin Scott Thomas) at the helm, actively opposing her.
Ben Wheatley has made an exceptionally beautiful film, where not least the color of the time (late 1930s) is taken on the grain, down to the smallest fashionable costume detail, the wonderful music and the place of women in society. The dramaturgy initially has a fine structure where we go from a burning romance, to a daily life on the large estate that becomes more and more unbearable for Mrs. Winters; where she constantly reveals new secrets about her enclosed husband.
Unfortunately, not all the dark secrets have time to manifest themselves properly, it is as if we are only scratching the surface of the almost Gothic story, with an increasingly diabolical Danvers, without receiving a satisfactory redemption.
Lily James is elegantly convincing as the desperate new wife of the secretive landlord, while the usual good Hammer here is anemic and anonymous – a complete mismatch considering the great charmer he will play. Even the incredibly fascinating character Danvers is toned down and virtually without a sting; which is not Scott Thomas’ fault, but rather a script and a direction that is a bit in the split between old and new times, and almost (unforgivably) fails to use one of the novel’s strongest driving elements, the class difference between the new Mrs. Winter and her mysterious groom.
Rebecca is far from the icy horror we got in Wheatley’s previous thriller, Kill List, it seems like he is not quite able to decide what to do with the drug this time, where the result ends up in a visual fashion party without much substance. and excitement. And that was not quite the point of a classic thriller, was it?
Unfortunately, this does not hold more than 3 very mediocre stars. A film you can skip when you zap restlessly through the stream jungle on the sofa on a late and dark autumn evening.
- Release: October 21, 2020
- Directed by: Ben Wheatley
- With: Lily James, Armie Hammer, Kristin Scott Thomas, Ann Dowd, Pippa Winslow, Lucy Russell, Bruno Paviot
- Genre: Thriller
- Country: UK / USA
- Year: 2020
- Time: 2:01 p.m.
- Rating: 3