Weisz and virtue…

Total Film - - Big Screen -


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.

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