By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
“My Cousin Rachel”
is the latest film from director Roger Michell (“Hyde Park on the Hudson”) and is adapted from Daphne du Maurier’s 1951 novel of the same name. It’s also a remake of the 1952 Oscar nominated romance/mystery film which starred Olivia de Havilland and Richard Burton.
Set in the 19th century against the majestic backdrop of Cornwall, England, “My Cousin Rachel” revolves around wealth, lust, and murder.
Rachel Weisz (“The Light between Oceans”) stars as Rachel Ashley, a young woman who uses her charms to snag the aristocratic and handsome Philip Ashley (Sam Claflin,“The Huntsman: Winter’s War”).
Philip was orphaned as a child and raised on a large estate by his older and wealthy guardian Ambrose. However, Cornwall’s extreme winter weather began to affect Ambrose's health and he was forced to move. He settled in Florence Italy because of its warmer climate.
Little Philip was left behind with his godfather, Nick Kendall (Iain Glen, TV’s “Game of Thrones”).
While in Florence, Ambrose met his distant cousin Rachel (Weisz) and married her.
Philip misses his guardian and is thrilled when he finally gets a letter from him. But it’s not what he expected.
The news is devastating. Ambrose writes that he’s deathly sick and believes that Rachel is slowly poisoning/killing him.
Nick, (Glen) isn’t as quick to believe Ambrose’s letter and even questions his state of mind. Nick’s daughter Louise (Holliday Grainger, TV’s “Strike”) who has liked Philip from day one also wonders what’s really going on in his life.
Even so, Philip is hurt and travels to Florence. He meets a man named Guido Rainaldi (Pierfrancesco Favino, “World War Z”) and he informs Philip he’s too late. Ambrose died from brain tumor just days before Philip arrived.
But Guido also tells Philip that Ambrose left a will which says when Philip turns 25, he’s entitled to his entire estate. Rachel doesn’t get a dime.
Still, Philip senses something isn’t quite right with the entire story. He’s also convinced Rachel flat out murdered Ambrose and vows revenge as he stares Guido down and says "Whatever it cost him in pain and suffering before he died, I will return in full measure upon the woman who caused it."
When Rachel arrives in England and Philip sees her, all that tough talk goes out the window. This guy falls head over heels for her.
Despite all the swirling rumors about Rachel being a gold-digger and her “free-spirited” ways with men, Philip shrugs it off. He’s taken by her beauty, charm and outspokenness.
When Philip learns that Ambrose never signed the will, he makes sure that Rachel has a very comfortable lifestyle. He gives her huge sums of money and many of the family heirlooms, much to the dismay of Nick and their family lawyer (Simon Russell Beale, “The Legend of Tarzan”).
Then all of a sudden Philip starts to get these terrible headaches. What’s strange is they always seem to occur shortly after drinking the pot of “special tea” Rachel makes him.
Could Rachel be a cold-blooded killer and setting up her “lovely boy?” Maybe. Is Philip so blinded by love and his judgement clouded with emotion? Yep.
The film’s director Roger Michell, slowly guides this moody, little drama and keeps us wondering just when the other shoe will drop.
And for all its splendid production design and stateliness, “My Cousin Rachel” becomes a bit too prim and proper for its own good.
For a movie that centers on danger, passion and romance, it’s quite the tease and seems afraid to go all in despite the palpable chemistry between Weisz and Claflin.
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Watch This Trailer For "MY COUSIN RACHEL"