My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier, published in 1951 is a mystery/ romance that has withstood the test of time. The new screen adaptation is being released today and we were lucky enough to see an advanced screening. The My Cousin Rachel movie adaptation had a lot to accomplish if it hoped to be as good as the book. So did it live up to the book’s promise?
Ambrose Ashley, an owner of a large country estate adopts his cousin Philip at a young age. The two men live together on the estate without any woman. When Ambrose gets older, he becomes ill and needs to spend the winter in Italy. There, he meets a woman, Rachel, and gets married. The letters that Ambrose sends home start to become increasingly frantic and paranoid as Ambrose becomes sicker. Before Philip can get to him in Italy, Ambrose dies.
There are some women, Philip, good women very possibly, who through no fault of their own impel disaster. Whatever they touch, somehow turns to tragedy.- Daphne Du Maurier, My Cousin Rachel
Immediately, Philip is convinced that Rachel is responsible for his cousin’s death. The amazing thing about this book is the underlying emotional turmoil. There is not a moment in the book in which the reader is sure of anything. Rachel’s motives are never clear. Just when you think you are sure, Du Maurier throws a proverbial wrench in the works, leaving the reader to wonder. The book is intentionally inconclusive and ambiguous.
The Movie did NOT re-create that tension. The slow transformation of Philip’s feelings is the underlying theme that moves the story along. Disappointingly, the movie was not able to capture this feeling. Caflin does a great job as Philip, a man who is slowly beguiled by Cousin Rachel. Rachel Weisz is perfect in her role as Cousin Rachel. However, the two of them together had something lacking. In the movie adaptation, Philip seems to change his feelings inexplicably and instantaneously. As a result, the movie is confusing and doesn’t make sense. From that pivotal moment in the movie, it all went downhill for me. The sensuality and the mystery that underlies this entire book was completely lacking in the movie. Some of the scenes were actually uncomfortable to watch.
The cinematography moves between beautiful and choppy. It feels like two different movies were filmed from one camera. Unfortunately, I was left feeling disappointed as I am with most book to screen adaptations. The movie had so much potential but somehow, just didn’t do it for me.
Have you seen the My Cousin Rachel movie adaptation from 1952? How did that one compare to the book?My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier
on December 17th 2013
Genres: Fiction, Psychological, Romance, Suspense, Thrillers
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Orphaned at an early age, Philip Ashley is raised by his benevolent older cousin, Ambrose. Resolutely single, Ambrose delights in Philip as his heir, a man who will love his grand home as much as he does himself. But the cosy world the two construct is shattered when Ambrose sets off on a trip to Florence. There he falls in love and marries - and there he dies suddenly. Jealous of his marriage, racked by suspicion at the hints in Ambrose's letters, and grief-stricken by his death, Philip prepares to meet his cousin's widow with hatred in his heart. Despite himself, Philip is drawn to this beautiful, sophisticated, mysterious Rachel like a moth to the flame. And yet . . . might she have had a hand in Ambrose's death?