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Film Review: My Cousin Rachel

“Whatever It Cost My Cousin In Pain And Suffering Before He Died I Will Return With Full Measure…”

Although unaware of her particular line of writing beforehand, the release of My Cousin Rachel has not only expanded my understanding of English author Daphne du Maurier but more interestingly has highlighted the importance of her writing, particularly in regards to its’ impact on cinema, with the likes of full-on classics such as Don’t Look Now, Rebecca and The Birds all being based upon du Maurier’s talented scripture.¬†Following in the footsteps of Nicolas Roeg and Alfred Hitchcock, arguably one of the most daunting double acts to take the mantle from, director Roger Michell brings to life du Maurier’s writings once more with My Cousin Rachel, a direct adaptation of the 1951 novel and a remake of the 1952 original movie which starred Olivia de Havilland and Richard Burton in the two leading roles, leading roles that this time are handed to Oscar winner Rachel Weisz and Their Finest star, Sam Claflin. With the infamy and reputation of previous successes of du Maurier’s works in the background, My Cousin Rachel understandably is nowhere near the calibre of anything from Hitchcock or Roeg, but with a stand out performance from Weisz and some gorgeous costume and set design, Michell’s movie is a solid enough attempt to transpose the ambiguous and paranoid writing of du Maurier onto the big screen.

Whilst the film’s narrative effectively reeks of uncanny uncertainty, the movie is undoubtedly bolstered by the magnetic presence of Rachel Weisz in the titular leading role, giving a superbly maligned performance which edges on the side of both troubled innocent and femme fetale depending on where exactly you believe the underlying plot is being directed by the careful hand of Roger Michell. Whilst Weisz is the undeniable guiding light of the movie, the same unfortunately cannot be said for the likes of Sam Claflin as Phillip, the incredibly annoying and wholly idiotic man-child who immaturely decides to deconstruct his entire life slowly but surely over the course of the film’s two hour runtime all-the-while the audience responds not with an inch of sorrow or remorse but instead wondering how on earth such a devious tit managed to achieve such wealth to begin with. Whether it be petulantly screaming and barking orders at his much more humane serving staff or wondering whether he is at the epicentre of a epic murderous scandal, Claflin has successfully gone and created arguably the most annoying leading character of the year so far, and when put up against the strong centrality of Weisz’s character, Claflin’s Phillip ultimately is a complete fail. Whilst the film’s key mystery is arguably too anti-climactic and the plot sometimes downgrading into lulls of utter dreariness, My Cousin Rachel passed the time nicely in a way which will see it on the BBC Two afternoon schedule sometime in your near future.

Overall Score: 6/10

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Film Review: The Light Between Oceans

“One Day This Will All Feel Like A Dream…”

Of the two previous Derek Cianfrance movies so far in his impressive career up to now, The Place Beyond The Pines was perhaps the one that impressed me the most; the multi-layered crime drama famous for pulling a Hitchcock and knocking off top-billed Ryan Gosling around 40 minutes into the picture and then focusing on the mistakes of the parents and the effect it has on the next generation. With Cianfrance’s latest picture, The Light Between Oceans, the gloomy sense of tragic melodrama current throughout his filmography is rife once again with a fairy-tale storyline and long-winding arcs bearing a wide range of similarities to The Place Beyond The Pines but also has enough meaty plot difference to be enjoyed as a completely separate body of work. Although the storyline is gripping at times, the movie’s constant need to invoke a solid state of complete, unrelenting melancholia is downright tough, ultimately leading to a piece of cinema which can easily be admired but can also easily be dismissed as just too much of a downer to be effective.

As with all Cianfrance movies, The Light Between Oceans benefits mainly from its’ impressive cast, with Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander, two of current cinema’s most consistent actors, leading the way in performances that are immediately believable and are responsible for adding real heart and soul to the drama unfolding on-screen. Add into the picture cameos from the likes of Rachel Weisz and The Light Between Oceans definitely has the acting stance on point throughout. Subsequently, the acting performances are unfortunately subsided by the sometimes plodding pacing of the movie which in itself is dampened by the latter two-thirds of the movie when the tone is unrelenting depression from the characters on-screen and the audience watching. What Cianfrance has with The Light Between Oceans is a perfectly solid drama, one which has stand out performances from its’ two leads but one which suffers from a range of problems including its’ melancholic attitude which encapsulates the drama throughout.

Overall Score: 7/10