Daphne Du Maurier’s gothic tale Rebecca is reimagined starring Lily James as the new Mrs de Winter. Haunted by the ghost of the former Mrs de Winter, Rebecca, the timid and naïve new wife of Maxim (Armie Hammer) adjusts to the overbearing estate of Manderley and the formidable Mrs Danvers (Kristin Scott Thomas). Even though her former mistress is long dead, the head housekeeper clings to keep her memory alive, even if that means bringing the new Mrs de Winters to the brink of sanity.
It was an okay watch… okay slightly less than okay, but that’s from the perspective of someone who hasn’t seen the 1940 Hitchcock version, has read the book, and is still able to put all of that aside and look at it objectively. It felt unsettled and it was dull.
The aesthetics were all over the place, it never truly felt very gothic, and the liberties taken with the era also sat rather jarringly. The ostentatious vehicles of the 1930’s, Rebecca’s very modern room that looked like it was taken directly from the pages of Essex Home, and the mixture of clothing styles.
Speaking of locations – can we stop using Hatfield House as a location? Those hallways are too distinctive and amongst others it was most recently featured in The Favourite (2018), Enola Holmes (2020).
I don’t want to go on about all the questionable aspects of this movie so I’ll discuss my main issue: I just didn’t buy Lily James as the new Mrs de Winters. Every time she simpered and crumpled, I rolled my eyes or yelled at her to stand up for herself. She is much like this in the book but it’s underpinned with her internal thoughts and feelings so we understand and sympathise slightly more.
With Rebecca (2020) that weak personality type didn’t work for me because James didn’t look the part of young, waif and naïve – she may have been able to pull it off a few years ago – but not now. It didn’t help that Maxim, who is meant to be about twenty years her senior (to further emphasise how out of depth she was) is played by Hammer, who is pretty much age mates with James.
I have no qualms with the creative licences taken, but that it wasn’t adjusted in other areas to allow it to hold the same weight it did in the novel and it instead it came across to me as confusing and contrived (and weird with that whole rolling on the floor bit).
Rebecca was a very pretty picture but a flat one-toned two hour movie.