My Cousin Rachel – A Luscious Period Tale Of Lust And Control

Short reviews for clear and concise verdicts on a broad range of films…


My Cousin Rachel (Roger Michell/2017)

Based upon a book from 1951, it is perhaps surprising how prescient My Cousin Rachel is. Clearly, between Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel, Daphne du Maurier savours the deconstruction of the contradictory expectations of gender in society. In this particular period, women are considered lower in status to their male counterparts. But people can be selfish and they can resent the position in which they’ve been placed. Philip (Sam Claiflin) is the heir to a fortune; an enormous house, cases of jewellery and savings to live his life from. His cousin Ambrose, who raised him, ensured their lives were away from most women, but while away in Florence, Ambrose meets Rachel (Rachel Weisz). By letter, Philip is told how they fell in love and yet, before his death, Ambrose feared her. In the gothic candlelit setting, across the blustery Cornish coast, she unexpectedly arrives and Philip is charmed, and seduced, by the sweet, sociable and attractive woman. Refusing to control his urges and, ignoring the warning signs from his Godfather, he aches for her. My Cousin Rachel would sit neatly with last month’s Lady Macbeth. They toy with our trust of the leading lady, while the men that surround them are blinded by their own insatiable desire and inexplicable sense of privilege. Exquisite costumes, luscious landscapes and old, wooden rooms set this tale of lust and control in a world that we think doesn’t exist anymore. But, of course, it resonates because privilege, power and sexism are all too real.

Rating: 8/10

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