The year is 1973 and an Englishman, Philip (Sam Clafin), seeks revenge on his late cousin’s beautiful wife ‘Rachel’ (Rachel Weisz), a very mysterious woman. Philip believes she is actually responsible for his cousin’s death. Will Philip fall for Rachel’s charms? Is Rachel a liar? Or more importantly, is Rachel a murderess?
The film has a small amount of characters. With a film containing so few characters, making sure the strength of each member is strong enough to carry the whole film is important. Sadly what occurs in My Cousin Rachel, is that characters change tones far too often. For example, in one scene Phillip will express frustrations about a situation only to have his overall tone change to something entirely different, very rapidly leaving the previous scene behind and making it forgettable. Watching Phillip make boyish and rushed decisions also made me react with eye-rolling at many times throughout this film. To clarify, this is a film that doesn’t have bad acting; it is simply a film that gets held back due to the scriptwriting. I was also amazed the director was satisfied with particular scenes. Needless to say, the stand out performance for this film is Rachel Weiz. Her acting is a true strength of the film and she expresses such mystery and emotion through even a simple look or stare. Visuals for this film were also a missed opportunity as they are uninteresting. Many rooms and landscapes feel like they have been used for more than one scene and makes the film feel very rather small.
For those who love period films, this is one for you! But for other Finesse fans, you’ve been warned in advanced. My Cousin Rachel is a thriller that is in no rush to tell its dramatic story. In fact, I would go as far to say it’s a slow burner until the end credits. A large majority of the film’s duration is simply raising the same questions over and over, going back and forth. Sadly, not all your questions are even answered by the end of the film’s credits. My Cousin Rachel is a thriller that feels like it goes in the wrong direction. The plot on paper gave me hope for something new and creative and was held back by frustrating core characters and a story that drags by ever so slowly. Major credit goes out to Rachel Weisz as she provides a great performance that has been missed.
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Review Written by Peter Walkden