The greatest shock of Netflix’s new adaptation of “Rebecca” comes early on. The rich Maxim de Winter (Armie Hammer) asks a shy younger servant (Lily James) whom he meets at a Monte Carlo lodge to marry him, and transfer into his sprawling property in England.
What?! James is a shy servant, and nobody has ever proposed to her? Unbelievable. That positively would not jibe with current headlines about how British males behave around James while in Europe.
James, gifted although she is, is emblematic of director Ben Wheatley’s downfall right here: attractive aesthetic given favor over taut storytelling. The cast is a walking-talking Vogue unfold and the scope of Manderley, the house by the ocean, outdoes Alfred Hitchcock’s extra intimate setting of the Nineteen Forties. That doesn’t make it higher.
The younger lady, an unnamed narrator in Daphne du Maurier’s novel, is stricken by paranoia and emotions of inadequacy over Maxim’s useless spouse, Rebecca. Hitchcock amped this up, profitable a Best Picture Oscar, with shadows and claustrophobic tête-à-têtes.
Every dialog within the 2020 “Rebecca” appears to occur beneath a 50-foot ceiling. Robin Leach might emerge from a door at any second.
The naïve new Mrs. de Winter is particularly bullied by Mrs. Danvers (Kristin Scott Thomas), the housekeeper in command of Manderley who’s fiercely dedicated to the late Rebecca.
“Don’t fear — she’s not as scary as she appears,” Maxim says after the ladies first meet. Wanna wager?
During one of many tensest scenes within the ethereal movie, Danvers brusquely brushes the brand new girl of the home’s hair and natters on about her beloved Rebecca. “She’s nonetheless right here,” Danvers says ghoulishly. “We really feel her. I ponder what she’s fascinated with you? Taking her husband, utilizing her title.” Crack that whip!
Scott Thomas appears like she’s about to drag out a shiv and knife her new boss proper then and there. The actress is so good, you want she might reprise the position in a greater movie that really deserves her.
“Rebecca” can’t survive on Danvers alone, nevertheless. Maxim and his new spouse gasoline the thriller and chilling suspense of the story that unfolds, and unfolds . . . and unfolds. Part of what is stored du Maurier’s novel widespread for greater than 80 years is a tone of supernatural horror that reveals itself to be a psychological thriller.
Hammer and James do not promote any particular tone. Hammer works greatest in hole roles — such because the Winklevoss twins in “The Social Network” — and would not sing in elements with troublesome layers and backstory. Maxim’s cool exterior conceals unattainable anguish, and it’s an performing problem for which Hammer doesn’t have the instruments.
James is best. She’s a deep-feeling actress, who made “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” sparkle towards all odds. The casting is not fairly proper although, and a lot of the movie’s different components do not help her. For now, James’ most gripping story a few spurned spouse could be discovered, not on Netflix, but on Page Six.