Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
Cast: Sam Claflin, Rachel Weisz, Holliday Grainger, Iain Glen, Poppy Lee Friar, Andrew Knott, Andrew Havill, Vicky Pepperdine, Katherine Pearce, Harry Hays, Tristram Davies, Chris Gallarus, Bobby Scott, Freeman.
The very name Daphne Du Maurier is one surely that should conjure up the very essence of British writing and one that stands alongside the greatest of the 20th Century, Agatha Christie and Virginia Woolf, and yet for one of Cornwall’s greatest adopted daughters, her passionate, often moody but always multi-layered work, doesn’t get the screen treatment it deserves, and aside from the fantastic adaption of The Birds and Rebecca by the legendary director Alfred Hitchcock, the writer has been pretty much left of the list of books that are ripe for bringing to an even greater audience.
The issue perhaps stems from the ability to capture the native Cornish soul, the feeling of being part of England but only connected by two miles of land, it is in this makes it difficult to understand arguably that life is very different for those with a heart in what they see is their own country.
To take on My Cousin Rachel is to either court misjudgement or to at least do it enormous credit, there is no in between, there is no safe place and in comparison with television’s adaption of Jamaica Inn, if done without due care, the sense of unforgiving is audibly loud and damning.
Unlike the Henry Koster 1952 cinematic version of the film, Roger Michell gets the template and the direction of the film just about spot on, the sense of mistrust, the suspicion which plays upon the notion of the outsider infiltrating the Cornish persona, all is illuminated with a sense of immense gravity by the acting of both Sam Claflin and Rachel Weisz. The passion that exists is one of understatement, the picturesque coast line mimicking the relationship between Philip and Rachel Ashley, beautiful to see but dangerous and treacherous to get close to; the rugged and the disturbed just another step on the road to personal destruction.
Whilst the nature of the story is meant to be one of sinister romance and the perils of scepticism quickly replaced by trust, Roger Michell gets the balance of mood and atmosphere down to a tee and it is with great admiration that an adaptation of Ms Du Maurier’s work, outside of Alfred Hitchcock’s own personal stamp, is more than watchable, it is in every possible way, a film worthy of the ideas and imagination of Cornwall’s adopted daughter.
A film of great insight, My Cousin Rachel is a testament to the Cornish nature and its people.
Ian D. Hall