At First Glance: “My Cousin Rachel”

Sometimes getting excited for a film doesn’t even require viewing the trailer. You recognize an actor in the film’s poster and that’s all you need. Of course, having the poster be immediately mysterious and intriguing helps a lot as well. And then, there’s the trailer itself. If that wasn’t reason enough, throw in the fact that the film is based on a classic novel, by an author who’s works include other classic novels which helped elevate her status as a storyteller. At this rate, is a trailer even necessary?

The upcoming Fox Searchlight Pictures film “My Cousin Rachel”, based on the novel of the same name by Daphne du Maurier, is shaping up to be one incredibly compelling psychological thriller. However, as with any psychological thriller, there comes a healthy amount of skepticism. With this type of film, and factoring in du Maurier as the author of the original source material, there’s a lot to get excited about, but even more that could go wrong.

Romantic Mind Games

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Prior to discovering there was a trailer for this film, I’d never heard of this book or previous adaptations. I’ve heard of du Maurier, like everyone else and as the trailer points out, because she’s the author of “The Birds” and “Rebecca”, both made into what would become classic films. But this was new, and, as can happen from time to time, I was pleasantly surprised.

Rachel Weisz (I know, right?) is the lead for this film, and that’s all I needed to get me on board. I’ll watch just about anything she’s in. The moment you first see her in the trailer she’s alluring and mysterious, which really helps sell this film’s mystery driven plot. Sure Sam Claflin starts out wanting to get revenge on Weisz as he believes she’s somehow responsible for the death of someone he knows and loves, but as is shown, this all takes a quick turn and nothing seems certain anymore. I love a good mystery and this one already has me hooked! Hopefully, it’s handled with the care it so clearly needs. I’m sure a lot of people have read the book over time, but for most, it’s probably been several years since or they’ve simply never heard of it. Like me! If this mystery doesn’t unfold properly, the next big element, to me, won’t matter much either.

What makes this film even more interesting, as if that were needed, isn’t the fact that Claflin starts falling for Weisz and so romance enters into things, but the fact that this film appears to be taking on the mantle of psychological thriller as well. Now, it could just be clever editing, but I’m not convinced that’s it. I mean, why go through the motions of making it appear so, if it weren’t at all? Now you’ve got something that has to be fully explored and delivered, otherwise, it’ll all be for not and the film will fail. Granted, this will still be a hurdle for this film, as writer and director Roger Michell hasn’t written anything before, so it’ll be a complete toss up.

Now, what sold me on the psychological thriller aspect is the last minute, but even more, the last 30 seconds of footage. It was amazing! Kind of crazy, but it certainly had me spinning. By the time it all ended, I wasn’t even sure what to believe anymore. I thought I’d started figuring out Weisz’s character or what I hoped she’d be, but all that work was for nothing. That last 30 seconds instantly had me doubting everything and made sure that I’d remember this trailer for some time. I’m now even intrigued enough to want a copy of du Maurier’s book for myself. I have a copy of “Rebecca”, so why not this one? There’s no such thing as too many books.

The last thing that looks exciting is everything that brings this world to life. It is a period drama after all. Everything that brings it to life, looks great! Costumes, sets, etc. But there’s also something else that’s great about this film being set when it is. There’s a built in atmosphere. I’m thinking, but not to the same level, of “Crimson Peak”. The look and feel could easily lead to some uncertainty and suspense building and, of course, a lot of beauty.

Expected Release Date: June 9, 2017

Written and Directed: Roger Michell

Starring: Rachel Weisz, Sam Claflin,Holliday Grainger, Iain Glen and Pierfrancesco Favino

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