Mini Movie Review: REBECCA - 2020 film

A young newlywed arrives at her husband's imposing family estate on a windswept English coast and finds herself battling the shadow of his first wife, Rebecca, whose legacy lives on in the house long after her death.  {Synopsis from IMDB}

Released: October 2020. 

Cast: Lily James | Armie Hammer | Kristen Scott Thomas. 

Director: Ben Wheatley. 

Cinematography: Laurie Rose.  

Screenwriter/s: Jane Goldman | Anna Waterhouse | Joe Shrapnel. 

Content Advisory: Non-explicit sex scenes | Partial nudity | Mild violence | Themes of death, threat, and suicide.

Source: Netflix. 

The film is pretty but pathetic. Lily James can't carry a lead role; her acting is repetitive and uninspired, and she doesn't have the screen presence. The weak script also makes it hard to suspend disbelief and actually buy into the main couple's whirlwind romance - never mind the ridiculous narrative that gets more melodramatic and contrived as the story goes on. But maybe I'm just too cynical.

Kristen Scott Thomas is a highlight. So is the cinematography, the visuals, and Keeley Hawes in the role of Maxim's sister - she makes every scene she's in a stronger, more engaging one. Which the movie needs, because Hammer and James aren't nearly captivating enough for 2+ hours. 

I did enjoy the first half hour (or so) of the movie. Although the romance is insipid, and the leads have little chemistry, there is a kind of giddy energy and it whisks you away into the world of softly-spoken dialogue, a dreamy setting, and soothing colour palette. It's easy on the eye and relaxing. 

But once the couple leave Monte Carlo and arrive at Manderley, the glossy visuals and stunning cinematography do nothing to disguise the poor writing and characterisation (these characters are one-dimensional, and the actors do nothing with the script to try and remedy that). As for the change in tone and Gothic thrills that overwhelm Mrs. de Winter when she arrives at Manderley: it's affected. 

Rebecca lacks conviction or passion.  Gorgeous scenery can't save the shallow script, and the actors are stilted in boring roles.   

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