Rebecca is one of the most disappointing movies of the year. Vivid cinematography that is muddled by a weak storyline — actors Lily James and Armie Hammer's shiny performances are, in the end, hollowed out by chaotic pacing and a lack of direction.
Director Ben Wheatley (Free Fire and High-Rise) never gives us a good enough reason to enjoy the existence of this movie. Rebecca is like a shiny new toy, only to fall apart in a matter of minutes. Based on the 1938 novel by Daphne du Maurier, this Gothic tale follows a man who's haunted by the memory of his late wife, Rebecca. Director Alfred Hitchcock turned the novel into a 1940s feature film, and it was a huge hit. Hitchcock soaked his movie with tension, bravura performances, and lively cinematography. As any normal Hitchcock feature goes, Rebecca was able to seep into your bones, sending chills down your spine. His film went on to receive 11 Oscar noms that year, winning two awards; Best Picture and Best Cinematography. Remaking a classic Hitchcock film is no small task, yet Wheatley failed to provide us a sense of gratitude. His story structure was all over the place, making the film's pacing agonizing to watch. Yet, Lily James and Armie Hammer do their best to win the audience over with their fairly persuasive performances — James is good, and Hammer is even better. Unfortunately, their performance's become suffocated by the lack of direction towards the end of the film.
One thing this Rebecca remake did have going for it was the stunning cinematography, along with gorgeous set designs and costumes. The film follows a young newlywed (James) who arrives at her husband's (Hammer) family estate on a windswept English coast. Mrs de Winter (James) finds herself embattled in the shadows of her husband's first wife, Rebecca, whose legacy haunts the house long after her death. Wheatley has no business making a Gothic romantic horror film if he does not take the time and effort to do so — Rebecca proved this was the case. Underneath the surface of Rebecca is a story ready to explode with fascinating Gothic horror and pressing tension between two people. This highly polished (on the outside) remake takes too many wrong turns, in the end, leaving our viewers in the cold. If you are interested in watching Rebecca, I recommend watching Hitchcock's version instead. Hitchcock's Rebecca (1940) is more satisfying on every level, especially on the construction of a coherent story. Wheatley's Rebecca remake might achieve a visual pizzazz, but it squanders everything else along the way. Shame.
Rebecca PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned). Some Sexual Content, Smoking, Partial Nudity, Thematic Elements.
This sad remake is directed by Ben Wheatley
Starring Lily James, Armie Hammer, Kristin Scott Thomas, Keeley Hawes, Sam Riley, and Ann Dowd.
Available to Stream on Netflix.
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