Film Review: My Cousin Rachel (2017)

***No spoilers***

This is the second film adaptation of Daphne Du Marier’s novel. The first was in 1952, starring Richard Burton and Olivia de Havilland. Unfortunately, I have never seen the 1952 version, so the modern remake is spared my usual complaint about remakes on this occasion.

It is an historical romantic drama, set in England and Italy during the early 19th century. Trying to avoid spoilers, I can only give a vague outline of the plot. A young orphan is taken in and raised by his cousin, living a comfortable life in 1830s Cornwall. Philip adores Ambrose, the older relative, who is exceptionally kind to him.

Ambrose decides to travel to Italy, to improve his health in the sunny climate. Philip is left in the care of his godfather, Mr Kendall, and his daughter Louise. She grows very close to Philip, and expects that one day they will marry. News arrives from Italy. Ambrose has fallen madly in love with a widow named Rachel, and they are married. She also happens to be a distant cousin of the family.

Very soon, letters arrive from Philip. His illness is becoming worse, and he suspects Rachel and her lawyer friend, Mr Rainaldi, of colluding to poison him. Young Philip is worried, so makes the long journey to Florence to confront Rachel. On arrival, he is devastated to discover that Ambrose is dead and buried. Rachel has left the country, and the lawyer Rainaldi tells him she has left everything to him, in accordance with Ambrose’s original will.

Not long after he returns to England, Rachel arrives at the family home in Cornwall. Philip is immediately smitten by the beauty of the older woman, and begins to lavish gifts and attention on her, much to the chagrin of Mr Kendall, and his daughter Louise. He tells Rachel he wants her to have the inheritance, as Ambrose’s widow, but she declines. Eventually, he forces it on her legally, along with the extensive collection of jewels once owned by his mother.

But he soon starts to become ill, with similar symptoms to those suffered by cousin Ambrose. Then he finds letters in a trunk of books left by Ambrose, and becomes convinced that Rachel is guilty. She stalls his concerns by becoming his lover, but the tension builds when she refuses to marry him.

That’s it for the story. I will say it has a satisfying twist that I suspected, but still enjoyed. Period detail is wonderful, and the casting feels just perfect too. Rachel Weisz as Rachel is simply lovely to look at, as well as playing her role to perfection. Sam Clafin is very convincing as the naive, love-struck young man, and the under-used Iain Glen strikes just the right note as the concerned godfather.

An exceptionally good film that I enjoyed much more than I expected to.

(For the information of UK readers, this should be available free on All4, the Channel 4 streaming service.)

Here’s a trailer.

48 thoughts on “Film Review: My Cousin Rachel (2017)

  1. I’ve not seen this film… yet. I enjoy a number of Weisz movies primarily because they mostly have fit into my genre of interest. The Bourne Legacy back in 2012 was the last time I saw her on the big screen intentionally. In fact, I’ve watched that movie many times. I honestly tried to see if I could actually meet her during filming in Chicago of “Chain Reaction” when I was living there, but didn’t work out. Lucky man, now ex-Bond, Daniel Craig. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The original film is apparently on You Tube, Arlene. It was made in 1952, and stars Richard Burton. The title is the same. This version is not on YT, but is on Amazon Prime.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  2. The 1952 film is on YouTube. Thanks for the mention of it because I’d never heard of this being made into a film with Richard Burton before. One to watch at meal times! I love watching films having my meals.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. The 1940s film with Olivier is ‘Rebecca’. For some reason others are also mixing up the two tonight!
          Joking aside though, I am sure you are thinking of Jane Eyre, probably the Orson Welles version.
          (1943, with Jane played by Joan Fontaine, Welles as Mr Rochester, director Robert Stevenson.)

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  3. Thanks Pete. It is always interesting watching an original, then the remake.

    If you haven’t already done so, take in a viewing of the 1941 Oscar-winning (Best Picture) “Rebecca” directed by Alfred Hitchcock, also based on the book of the same title written by Daphne Du Marier. Then, perhaps watch the 2017 remake?

    Okay, now you’ve done it Pete 😉 – I have convinced myself to view three new films (new to me anyway), finally seeing the remake of “Rebecca”, the original 1952 “My Cousin Rachel”, and the remake.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I won’t even bother to watch the new Rebecca. The original is wonderful. Sadly, I have never seen the original version of this film, but though Racel Weisz was perfect in this modern version, WN.
        Best wishes, Pete.

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