MY COUSIN RACHEL
Weisz and virtue…
OUT 9 JUNE
L ooking very Sphinx-like behind her widow’s veil, Rachel Weisz gives her screen namesake a delicious ambivalence in this darkly handsome adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s period mystery. Suspected by gauche squire Philip (Sam Claflin) of having murdered her husband (and his guardian) Ambrose, her sweetness soon infatuates him. He can’t be sure if she’s after his heart or his estate, as the story swings between Rachel’s good deeds and uncovering her dodgy reputation.
Writer/director Roger Michell ( Notting Hill) keeps their affair on a slow burn, sometimes sputtering rather than simmering as Philip investigates (helped by Iain Glen’s lawyer) if Rachel’s motives – and her noxious herbal teas – are pure or perilous. A psychological drama rather than a gothic chiller, it often sacrifices scares for subtlety. One of du Maurier’s do-less pieces, it’s got little Rebecca- style tension, and few of Don’t Look Now’s creeping possibilities of evil.
Garnished with Cornish landscapes and candlelit love scenes, it’s a good-looking film (even if there is a pinch of Poldark in its yokels and period prettiness) but, despite Claflin’s volatile performance and Weisz’s intensity, MCR can’t muster real romantic heat or suspense. Kate Stables
Rachel Weisz’s wily-or-winsome widow crackles with dangerous allure, but can’t gee up this sedate mystery.