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My Cousin Rachel

Cover Media logo Cover Media 09/06/2017 covermg.com

Author Daphne du Maurier’s work is lends itself to exciting big screen adaptations, from Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds to Nicolas Roeg’s thriller Don’t Look Now.

Her latest masterpiece to be given the cinema treatment is My Cousin Rachel, an engaging murder mystery which will leave audiences clueless as to what really happened throughout.

Setting the tone perfectly is the voice of Sam Claflin’s Philip, whose voice quizzes, ‘Did she? Didn’t she?’ before recalling how he was taken in by his wealthy cousin Ambrose (also portrayed by Claflin) when his parents died during his childhood. A father figure to Philip, Ambrose is loved by all, including Philip’s godfather Nick Kendall and his daughter Louise (Iain Glen and Holliday Grainer), so when he suddenly falls ill they all agree it’s in his best interest to travel to Florence, Italy, to recover in warmer weather.

Ambrose isn’t alone in Florence for long as he writes to Philip informing him he’s met a wonderful woman called Rachel (Rachel Weisz), who he quickly weds and intends to bring back to England with him. His letters quickly turn dark however, as he complains of headaches and feeling even more ill, claiming Rachel is forever looking over him.

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Suspicious of his guardian’s new wife, Philip wastes no time in setting out to Florence to help, but upon arriving he’s informed by Rachel’s friend that Ambrose has passed away from a brain tumour and that his widow took off with all their belongings. Full of anger and grief, Philip returns home and shares his concerns with Kendall and Louise, who offer to stand by him. Rachel arranges to England to visit Philip, who will receive all his late guardian's assets upon Philip's 25th birthday.

However things don’t quite go to plan when Rachel arrives as she proves to be the perfect house guest; polite, helpful, intelligent and beautiful, causing Philip’s hard exterior to melt as he quickly develops feelings for her. She can’t have been mistreating Ambrose, could she? A woman so sweet, and without being mentioned in his will what could she possibly have had to gain from killing him?

The cast and director Roger Michell promised My Cousin Rachel would allow the audience to come to their own conclusions, and with so much mystery throughout viewers have no choice but to come up with their own answers. It’s the type of film that you only begin to notice certain moments once you’ve left the cinema as you’ll be too busy scratching your head while watching it.

Weisz is outstanding as usual, bringing du Maurier’s elusive Rachel to life with elegance and poise. Grainger is also well cast as the reliable but sceptical Louise, who longs for Philip’s attention is deterred by his infatuation with his new guest.

While Claflin certainly brings a lot of emotion to his role, at times his performance does feel a little over the top and too dramatic, though it does somewhat accurately capture the childish and easily influenced personality of his alter ego.

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