Rebecca [5/10]

Rebecca” is the latest screen evocation of Daphne Du Maurier’s 1938 novel of the same name. I must have read that classic in my early teens and I can still recall the terrifying mood of the Manderley estate and the vituperative housekeeper Mrs Danvers. Set in the 1920s, Rebecca is the tale of an initially anonymous young woman who is swept off her feet by Manderley’s young scion, Maxim de Winter. When Maxim takes her back to Manderley as the new Mrs. de Winter, she discovers he and the entire community seem to be mourning beautiful, formidable Rebecca, the previous wife, drowned recently. A Gothic drama, almost a thriller, Rebecca makes for enjoyable viewing simply because Daphne du Maurier’s plot is exemplary, full of twists and turns and drama. The bleak English countryside and the sumptuous estate are filmed wonderfully, and some of the supporting actors turn in impressive performances, but both key roles are rather miscast. Armie Hammer is serviceable but wooden as Maxim and Lily James’s portrayal of our heroine is never subtle enough. Overall, Rebecca makes for an enjoyable hour and a half of screen time but does not hold a candle to the novel.

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