rebecca (2020 review)
For Hitchcock, du Maurier’s book — a study of toxic relationships, decades before the phrase “toxic relationships” was a thing — was a perfect marriage of director and material, rife with suspense and psychological riddles. Here, it was the idea of the team at Working Title — who’ve gambled on unconventional talent to direct beloved literary properties in the past, which is how the world got Joe Wright’s modern spin on “Pride & Prejudice” — to hire Wheatley for the project. Dressed in a mustard suit and a red tie that makes him look like a squeeze bottle of condiments in search of some fresh meat to slather, Maxim takes an instant shine to the guileless English girl he meets at the hotel restaurant. Running time: 121 MIN. The first Rebecca film, to use an obvious analogy, is a little like the first Mrs de Winter. Lustrous as it can be to look at, Wheatley’s vision of Manderley falls short of the extreme renovation fans might have hoped for when the man behind some of the most feral movies in recent memory was hired to put a fresh spin on a novel that no one can forget. Making the most of the “Grace Kelly next door” vibe she’s tapped into several times before (“Cinderella,” “Baby Driver,” and “Yesterday” being three prime examples), Lily James is always believable as the kind of person who finds themselves living a fairy tale, and therefore perfectly cast as a low-status lady’s companion who fumbles through a Monte Carlo resort as if waiting to be rescued by her ultra-rich Prince Charming. Though it isn't a film one would go, "That is ripe material for Ben Wheatley to play with", but it's a bold and brave and assured decision I feel and one that works, in Ben Wheatley's favour. But this is every bit a ghost story in the sense that the title character is never seen — she’s most certainly dead — and yet her presence can be felt looming over every aspect of the film. Some worried whether James was too much of a leading lady to play the meek, symbolically never-named protagonist. ‘Rebecca’ Review: Ben Wheatley’s Instagram-Ready du Maurier Adaptation Is Shiny and Dull. Their “Rebecca” is more of a re-adaptation, restoring certain key ideas that the Hays Code (Hollywood’s playbook for self-censoring from the mid-1930s till the late ’60s) scrubbed clean. “Rebecca” will be available to stream on Netflix on Wednesday, October 21. Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again…again. But neither the director nor his writing team (“Stardust” scribe Jane Goldman, aided by Joe Shrapnel and Anna Waterhouse) is trying to do a straightforward remake here. Psychologically, the movie makes an expert study of the insecurities anyone feels when stepping into another person’s shoes, aligning audiences with James’ perspective to the degree that we share in her paranoia: the suspicion that the entire staff is judging her and gossiping behind her back. She simply can’t believe that her studly new husband might have seen something in her that was preferable to the perfection that everyone attributes to the previous Mrs. de Winter — although maybe that has more to do with Mrs. Danvers’ adulation of her late mistress. Share. This, on the other hand, feels like the most un-Wheatley Ben Wheatley film ever, and the new rhythm he’s operating in — classical Hollywood studio filmmaking from a scrappy, British indie auteur — is, at first, unsettling. Where is the murky darkness of Kill List, the dry, understated humour of Sightseers, or the transgressive weirdness of A Field In England? It’s shot and lit (by Laurie Rose) in a saturated, almost hyperreal style; compared to the subtle shadows of Hitchcock’s film-noir monochrome, this is a lurid, colourful romp, designed to bring a fusty tome to a younger crowd. Variety and the Flying V logos are trademarks of Variety Media, LLC. But they’ve stopped short of where the helmer’s natural tendencies could have taken things, making this return to Manderley softer and less perverse than either Wheatley or the material might allow. Those audiences are the most likely target for this retro-styled period thriller distributed by Netflix, which will inevitably be compared with Hitchcock’s first American production, on which the budding British auteur melded visions with classic Hollywood producer David O. Selznick. Or thirty-first and -second? Hitch’s famous silhouette is like Rebecca herself: always there, even when he’s not. Wheatley identifies an almost Orphic quality to Maxim’s latest marriage, and the most radical thing about this adaptation is the not-so-insistent notion that Maxim’s relationship with his new wife actually matters as much as any of the things that threaten to destroy it. Here’s an adaptation that strives to repaint Manderley without pissing off any of the spirits that continue to haunt its memory, and the perfume-scented romance of that new patina can be thick enough to make you see du Maurier’s story in a slightly different (if not altogether flattering) light. The temptation must have been great to camp it up, but Scott Thomas makes the more effective choice of revealing dimensions of her motivations, even if her “love” of her mistress loses some of the ambiguity that made classic Mrs. Danvers such an unnerving villain. Needless to say, revisiting Manderley is tempting and dangerous in equal measure. But she has been a doe-eyed ingenue until this point (watch how long it takes her just to figure out that Rebecca drowned), so the third-act Nancy Drew routine doesn’t really fly — nor is it even necessary to put the case to rest. This Article is related to: Film, Reviews and tagged Armie Hammer, Direct, Netflix, Rebecca, Reviews. It’s a comparison that is simultaneously unfair (Wheatley has been clear that he was adapting the novel, not remaking the film) and impossible to ignore. 710067). Sign up for our Email Newsletters here. The third and fourth? VAT no 918 5617 01, Bauer Consumer Media Ltd are authorised and regulated by the FCA(Ref No. Thomas is clearly having fun here, her every fibre withering with contempt for all who dare to enter her orbit, and it’s a wicked pleasure to see her deliver — through pursed lips — scathing lines like, “The first Mrs de Winter was most particular about her sauces.”, Bauer Media Group consists of: Bauer Consumer Media Ltd, Company number: 01176085, Bauer Radio Ltd, Company Number: 1394141, Registered Office: Media House, Peterborough Business Park, Lynch Wood, Peterborough, PE2 6EA H Bauer Publishing,Company Number: LP003328, Registered Office: Academic House, 24-28 Oval Road, London, NW1 7DT.All registered in England and Wales. (At least Ann Dowd offers some potent comic relief as James’ gruesomely classist boss in the kind of low-angle performance that still manages to look down on you.). His “Rebecca” is less dream than nightmare, and his Manderley catches fire in the rare moments when the second Mrs. de Winters seems to be in imminent danger. For about three-quarters of the running time, “Rebecca” does a respectable job of navigating between respect for the source and establishing its own distinct identity. The cast are a significant difference, too. In a way, the director seems to have fallen into a similar trap to the one that snared Hitchcock: In both versions, the producers take a dominant hand, overriding some of the directors’ instincts. While Jane Goldman, Joe Shrapnel, and Anna Waterhouse’s script neglects to illuminate the character’s obsessive darkness — a sexual undertow that du Maurier alluded to, and Hitchcock wiggled around — Kristin Scott Thomas is ghoulishly excellent in what feels like an extended audition for the “Rebecca” prequel series that Ryan Murphy will surely pitch to Netflix soon if he hasn’t already. Mrs. Danvers is one of those iconic female roles — like Lady Macbeth — whose influence resurfaces throughout modern cinema, complicated by the queer subtext actor Judith Anderson insinuated in her original performance. Whatever heat Maxim and the new Mrs. de Winter (it’s a conspicuous detail in du Maurier’s commentary on gender roles and the gross power imbalance in this particular marriage that her first name is never spoken) enjoyed on the Riviera takes a dour turn once they return to Manderley — a place that is haunted by the memory of Rebecca, and hovered over by head housekeeper Mrs. Danvers (Kristin Scott Thomas, the casting of whom feels like the film’s true raison d’être). By Fiona Underhill. While remakes and reboots are – perhaps deservedly so – controversial, literary adaptations are more complicated. It doesn’t help that thin-lipped caretaker Mrs. Danvers never misses an opportunity to remind the new lady of the house that she’s living in someone else’s home. She’s an ill-fitting crush for a severe man who treats everything like a secret except for his wealth, but they’re both very pretty and the cologne ad chemistry between them is enough to hold our attention through a clipped prologue that never takes a moment to breathe in the Mediterranean air. Netflix review: The new 'Rebecca' makes for a worthy adaptation Don't bother comparing it to the Hitchcock movie - it's a whole new take Armie Hammer is a little too young to play the worldly Maxim de Winter, and his accent occasionally drifts across the Atlantic, but he radiates the correct amount of preppy privilege, and enjoys the kind of easy, infectious chemistry with Lily James that the chaste 1940 film never could. If Rebecca was the first Mrs. de Winter, and Joan Fontaine’s character was the second, what does that make the two wives in Wheatley’s latest update? To that end, it’s understandable why the loud and love-drunk new version that Ben Wheatley has made with a sunken boatload of Netflix money is neither faithful to a fault, nor glossy beyond all recognition (though it alternately feels like both at various points along the way). The sunny intro is meant to be a striking contrast to the Gothic dreariness that awaits Maxim and his new wife back at Manderley, but its artificial saturation and candied lighting provides a rather accurate idea of the hyper-vivid “Alice in Wonderland” aesthetic that Wheatley and his usual cinematographer Laurie Rose have lent to this entire story; if this “Rebecca” initially seems caught somewhere between Alfred Hitchcock and Tim Burton, a quick tour of de Winter’s haunted mansion clarifies that we’re closer to ersatz Guillermo del Toro (Manderley was apparently constructed at the base of Crimson Peak).


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