Thursday, June 8, 2017

Roger Michell's MY COUSIN RACHEL: Is she or isn't she? (Even her hairdresser can't be sure)

When a movie is utterly devoted to pulling its audience one way and then the other regarding its central character and whether she is good or evil, chances are that the character in question will finally have no character at all. So it is with Roger Michell's newly adapted (from the novel by Daphne Du Maurier) and directed version of MY COUSIN RACHEL. As big a fan as TrustMovies is of the actress, Rachel Weisz, who stars in the title role, her performance, along with the film itself, has nowhere to go and so becomes a tiresome, pretty-to-view blank.

Mr. Michell, shown at right, has some splendid films to his credit -- from Notting Hill and The Mother to Hyde Park on Hudson and Le Week-end -- but this one, I think, is simply misjudged. (Though, not having read the novel nor seen the earlier version, perhaps the blame rests with the late Ms Du Maurier.) Nor does it help matters that, along with a title character who has none, we also have a leading man, played by the excellent Sam Claflin (below, of Their Finest), who begins the movie as something of a twit and soon becomes a full-fledged twat.

My goodness: Who are we to root for here? Most of the minor characters seem to have their ducks in a row, but, clearly, they are not what matters. So we keep coming back and back again to Rachel and her cousin Philip until their would-be love story, which eventually seem less like the icing on the cake (there is no cake) and more like the foam on the beer.

There's an earlier marriage, along with what may or may not be an untimely death; a vast estate; an inheritance and a will (two of these, I think); jewels; another woman (in waiting, at least); maybe another man (the final explanation of which should be embarrassing to the Greeks); and lots more. And none of it matters in the least.

The supporting casts boasts the likes of Iain Glen (above, right), Holiday Grainger and Italy's Pierfrancesco Favino and the cinematography -- of England and Italy -- is lovely. Finally, though, all you want to say to him is, "Grow up!" And to her, "Get lost!"

From Fox Searchlight and running a seemingly very long 106 minutes, My Cousin Rachel opens wide this Friday, June 9. Click here to locate the theaters nearest you.

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