Thursday, 23 November 2017

My Cousin Rachel - The Film Review

I pre-ordered the DVD of My Cousin Rachel months ago because the film is based on one of my favourite stories ever that I had read way before the new film (because there are two old ones too for the same story) came into being. In order not to lengthen this post and keep it confined to criticism, I am attaching a link to another article of mine about this same film and corresponding book for those that would like a brief intro to the story in question.

My copy of the DVD arrived recently and despite my rough timetable managed to fit it in to watch in the same month that it arrived, which is a first for this past year or so!!

Imagine my disbelief then when I sat down to watch the first half and was quite disappointed! Though it really is unfair of me to judge the film by the book when I last read the book long years ago. And yet I get the feeling that the very idea that I would still find Rachel Weisz' interpretation of Cousin Rachel lacking means that her book counterpart was all the more strong. Then again, I will say right now that when I watched the second half of the film on a subsequent day the interpretation was much more spot on so I can only assume that it was a character build-up happening. By the end Weisz made a convincing contrary Rachel just like the personality in the book.

Seeing as we are talking about the character analysis let me go on to the character of Philip, which I believe was delightedly played by the ever-impressive Sam Claflin. Yes, I do know that as a fan I will always be more prejudiced towards singing his praises than pointing him out as lacking. However in this film he truly leaves no room to comment negatively. For those who might have seen this film and hated him without having read the book, may I say that he is as nauseatingly childish and ever-changing in the text as Claflin makes him out to be. He might turn twenty-five in the course of the story, but a very childish twenty-five-year-old he makes. Maybe he was right and needed the love of a woman to really grow up.

One thing else I must commend about this film is the colour scheme - contrasting as it is between Philip's 'dusty' pale and warmly coloured scenes and Rachel's own dark and bold blues and black, including her clothes and rooms. Surely for dramatic effect, when Rachel invites a companion to keep her company, she turns up in bright pink that strongly clashes with Rachel's world, probably to show just how out of place even Rachel believed her to be, pointing out the obvious that Rachel did not really want her around other than to make Philip back off.

A last point I will make for today is that the ending is, despite similar to the original story, slightly changed. In a way a film should always have some differences in order to stand out, as well as that some scenes might be simpler to set up and shoot than ones mentioned in a book. After all, a writer has poetic license even in conjuring up places that do not exist and which might be difficult to find or set up in real life. Therefore I will mention more amusingly than pityingly that for those of us who have read the book before viewing this masterpiece (for a masterpiece it turns out to be by the time the credits roll up), the sunken garden mentioned more than once in the course of the book has been changed to a cliffside. It still works wonderfully for the final scene and in the trailer I quite thought they had left this detail unchanged in fact.

I am not yet done with my thoughts on the film and the story in general. However I do not want to ramble on unnecessarily and would rather dedicate another future entry on here to another facet of my analysis - the very famous Did she, or did she not?

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