By Mr. Will Wong
There couldn’t be a more perfect time than chilly Autumn to cozy-up under a blanket and watch a suspenseful Romance-Noir like Ben Wheatley‘s (Free Fire, High-Rise) REBECCA. The Thriller based on Daphne du Maurier‘s Novel, is its third screen adaptation (including Hitchcock‘s Academy Award-winning version), with a Screenplay by Jane Goldman, Joe Shrapnel and Anna Waterhouse. The Film is laced with shocking, scandalous thrills and a dash of lustful seduction in its First Act, taking us away on enjoyable escape with the gorgeous Cinematography of return Wheatley collaborator, Laurie Rose.
Lily James stars as the eventual Mrs. de Winter, falling in love with Maxim de Winter (Armie Hammer) – widowed, healthy and handsome. His wife Rebecca dies from mysterious circumstances and after moving into his estate, Manderley, she begins to realize just how unwelcome she is. Even after her death, Rebecca‘s strong presence is felt and Head Housekeeper Mrs. Danvers (Kristin Scott Thomas) is there to remind Mrs. de Winter of her unworthiness as a successor. Though Rebecca‘s body is already buried seemingly, the discovery of her true corpse leads to a turn of events and surprising revelations that could change both Maxim and Mrs. de Winter‘s fate forever.
James does a fantastic job taking us into the mind of Mrs. de Winter, always fearsome of her surroundings and of losing everything. Her fate often is decided upon by those around her until she takes control of it late. She possesses the right amount of softness that makes us realize how larger than life and omnipresent Rebecca truly is. Scott Thomas is ferocious as the icy Mrs. Danvers, making us feel Rebecca‘s wrath beyond the grave and a constant reminder that things are about to make a horrible turn. In Mrs. Danvers, the Film touches upon themes of jealousy among women and the threat of Mrs. de Winter‘s arrival meaning that Rebecca‘s worth somehow is diminished. This theme further is explored in Mrs. Van Hopper, played to cruel perfection by Ann Dowd, hiring James‘ character as a companion, berating and humiliating her within earshot, before Maxim decides to make her his wife, ultimately getting the upper-hand… or not as things get dark for Mrs. de Winter soon after marriage.
Taking a story’s scariest character and conveying them off-screen is a daunting dask, but REBECCA some 82 years after being published, proves haunting still and shows that masterful storytelling stands the test of time.
REBECCA arrives on Netflix Wednesday, October 21, 2020.