*Just a few little ones…
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.
“She was the love of his life…”
As we have discussed many times Hollywood loves a good remake. Somehow someone got it in their head that they should remake an Alfred Hitchcock movie, which as we all know went great last time. Rebecca which came out in 1940, was Hitchcock’s only movie surprisingly to win a Best Picture Oscar, so there were high expectations for this new version. I can’t help feeling a bit let down though due to just how great the original, is compared to this emotionally empty reimagining.
The story follows the exact same beats as the 1940 version, which shows a young woman (Lily James, never given a name) whisked off into a quick marriage with one of the richest men in England Maxim de Winter (Armie Hammer). She then learns living in this world is incredibly difficult when everyone around her is comparing her to his late wife Rebecca. The story of course has its twists and turns but this is really just a starring piece for Lily James, which as we know I am not mad about.
The good parts in this come mainly in the technical aspects, with a solid tragic score accompanied with incredible cinematography. Laurie Rose has shot all of the Director Ben Wheatley’s movies and she makes the French Riviera and the English Countryside just majestic. You can tell everything was shot on site because it all looks spectacular and jumps off the tv screen. Yes that TV screen because this is another Netflix movie. They are crushing it this year with Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods, Aaron Sorkin’s Trial of the Chicago 7, and upcoming David Fincher’s Mank, and Woody Allen’s a Rainy Day in New York. So clearly if you are making prestige movies Netflix is the place to be right now. And if they are willing to shell out the money to make movies look as good as Rebecca than I will not complain.
The main concern I have with a movie like this is that they just did not change enough or make it a new vision of the story. The plot hits all the same notes and a lot of it just seems like they made the same movie but in color. If you are going to remake something, a classic nonetheless, than at least try and give it a modern or positive spin.
Stock Up – Lily James
She was the best part about the movie and carried most of the scenes throughout. What I liked is she did not just do a Joan Fontaine impersonation, she really brought her own style to the part and continues to show why she is on the rise in Hollywood.
Stock Down – Armie Hammer
He really just misses the mark in this for me. I know living up to Laurence Olivier is an absurd notion, but he really gets blown off the screen sometimes by James. I was really high on him back in the Social Network days, but I do not know what to think now. I hope he can get a part that he can really use all of his charisma and not be held back.
Stock Neutral – Ben Wheatley
The man who directed this story actually has been one of the more prolific directors of the last decade. Rebecca is his 9th feature of the last 10 years and he already has another one in the pipeline. I respect what he is doing and he seems to be getting bigger and bigger budgets, which is great to see.
Who’s That Guy/Gal?
Ann Dowd – 104 IMDB Acting Credits
Ann Dowd! God damn is she not the scariest person in the world in the Leftovers. I loved her in the role as Mrs. Van Hopper and honestly laughed every time she opened her mouth. She is always a delight.
*A Couple other Tidbits
- Kristin Scott Thomas did her best as the devilish Mrs. Danvers, but she just never felt that menacing to me.
- Clint Mansell’s Score is intoxicating and fits the picturesque nature of the movie.
- I would get lost every single day in that house, but it is magnificent to look at.
When you take on a classic story then you better be prepared for scrutiny. And when you remake the one Alfred Hitchcock movie to win Best Picture then lets be honest, if the movie is not perfect people are going to come for your head. Taking this movie in a vacuum though, the story falls a bit flat but the movie is watchable for the incredible scenery and strong score.
*You can find my 2020 Rankings here.
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