My Cousin Rachel

Pasatiempo - - CONTENTS - Their Finest) (Not­ting Hill),

Here’s a sum­mer epic about a pow­er­ful in­de­pen­dent wo­man who ac­com­plishes ex­tra­or­di­nary things. No, it’s not Wonder Wo­man. This is a lady whose pow­ers en­able her to wrap strong men around her lit­tle fin­ger. In the coastal Corn­wall coun­try­side, young Philip Ash­ley (Sam Claflin,

has grown to hunky young man­hood as the ward of his dot­ing older cousin Am­brose. Am­brose win­ters abroad for his health, and as our story opens, his let­ters home from Italy re­veal that the life­long bach­e­lor has met Rachel, a dis­tant cousin, fallen in love, and mar­ried. The first let­ters are ec­static. But soon they take a darker, para­noid turn. He dis­trusts his bride. He’s get­ting sick. He begs Philip to come at once.

When Philip ar­rives in Flo­rence, he finds his guardian dead and Cousin Rachel gone. He returns to Corn­wall an­gry, con­fused, and bit­ter.

Philip has grown up moth­er­less and in an at­mos­phere al­most en­tirely de­void of fe­male pres­ence, so he has come of age not know­ing a lot about women. He can gal­lop at break­neck speeds along the cliffs of Corn­wall, he can bale hay and swing a scythe, but he can’t seem to man­age a clean shave. He gets his in­her­i­tance on his twenty-fifth birth­day — which is com­ing soon.

Com­ing even sooner, how­ever, is Cousin Rachel (Rachel Weisz), who ar­rives to see the place where her beloved Am­brose lived. Philip greets her with a heart smol­der­ing with ha­tred. But con­fronted with her mys­te­ri­ous An­glo-Ital­ian beauty, swathed in a black widow’s weeds and veil that make her re­sem­ble Me­la­nia Trump stand­ing next to the Pope, Philip falls hard.

We wait a long time for Weisz to ap­pear, and she does not dis­ap­point. She’s an enigma wrapped in a spider’s web. Poor puppy-dog Philip never stands a chance. Mean­while we’re learn­ing a few things about Rachel. Ru­mors swirl that she’s pro­mis­cu­ous. She’s se­ri­ously over­drawn in her fi­nances. None of this dents Philip’s in­fat­u­a­tion. Up un­til now it has been re­quited only with a kiss, but more, inevitably, is on the way. And when it comes, it seals the deal.

To the hor­ror of his god­fa­ther (Iain Glen) and his lawyer (Si­mon Rus­sell Beale), Philip makes plans to turn over to Rachel his en­tire es­tate as soon as it falls into his hands. She has a will from Am­brose that leaves ev­ery­thing to her. It’s un­signed but mo­rally com­pelling to the smit­ten Philip.

In the ca­pa­ble hands of Roger Michell this 1951 Daphne du Mau­rier tale makes an en­ter­tain­ing sum­mer di­ver­sion, though it is plagued by an­noy­ing de­tails and a ridicu­lous end­ing. Claflin plays a naïve, bump­tious twit, and he man­ages well enough. The sup­port­ing cast is ex­cel­lent, in­clud­ing the manser­vant Seecombe (Tim Bar­low), a with­ered old cuss with an un­for­get­table profile. But this is Weisz’s pic­ture, and she de­liv­ers a lay­ered, fas­ci­nat­ing, am­bigu­ous char­ac­ter that will leave you un­cer­tain as to just what she has been up to for the past hour and three-quar­ters. — Jonathan Richards

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.