Based on the 1951 novel of the same name by Daphne du Maurier and directed by Roger Michell, My Cousin Rachel tells the story of a young Englishman, Philip (Sam Claflin), who plots revenge against his mysterious, beautiful cousin, Rachel (Rachel Weisz) believing that she murdered his guardian. But his feelings become complicated as he finds himself falling under the beguiling spell of her charms.
“Did she? Didn’t she? Who was to blame?” The truth is, you’re never supposed to know, and that’s the brilliance of a Daphne du Maurier novel. However, the film doesn’t leave an impact like the book does. Once it ends, the feeling of whether she did or not doesn’t linger in your mind in the same way that it does after reading the book.
The cinematography is beautiful, set in the beautiful Cornish moors, and the gothic atmosphere that du Maurier often sets her stories in is handled well. But this should be a film that you don’t want to turn away from, not knowing whether you’ll catch a glimpse of Rachel sneaking something into Philip’s tea or not, yet it doesn’t have the gripping intensity that the story deserves.
The film mostly captures the tone of the book but it doesn’t quite handle the characters as well. That’s always a problem with book adaptations, however, as the same amount of time can’t be spent on their inner thoughts and feelings, so it’s difficult to capture the same relatability.
But there is a sense of allure to the film thanks to Rachel Weisz’s excellent performance. But whilst Sam Claflin is well cast, his character is too easily misled and viewers aren’t left feeling as sympathetic towards him as they should be.