Coming to Blu-ray/DVD and Digital HD this week from writer/director Roger Michell and Fox Searchlight Pictures is a story of love and mystery surrounding “My Cousin Rachel.”
Philip (Sam Claflin) loses his parents at a very young age but it blessed when Cousin Ambrose raises him. When Philip becomes a young man, Ambrose travels and becomes involved with a woman named Rachel (Rachel Weisz). As strange letters begin to arrive, Philip has no choice but to find his Uncle.
Seeking wise advice from family friend Kendall (Iain Glen) who regards Philip highly and daughter Louise (Holliday Grainger), a plan is made to find Ambrose. When the young man arrives it is to sad news that Ambrose has died. His anger wells up against his new cousin Rachel believing she is responsible.
Returning home, he receives word that Rachel is coming for a visit and Louise helps Philip prepare. What Philip is not prepared for is a mysterious cousin who tells a story of sickness and anguish. Feeling emotions he had never felt before, Philip is faced with the duality of love and suspicion.
Coming closer and closer is either a life filled with love or the brink of insanity!
Weisz as Rachel has the uncanny and fantastic ability to add so many dimensions to a character and playing Cousin Rachel is no exception. She is endearing, kind, secretive, altruistic with a history of pain yet it is up to the viewer to understand if any of it is real. I have always enjoyed this actress’s performance but especially those where she gives a turned eye as if she knows something we all don’t.
Claflin as Philip is a young man possessed by every emotion that swings his way. Fueled by anger at first he learns that one can be fueled by the craziness of love with equal fervor. Wanting to experience life, he looks to his cousin to make that happen and isn’t quite sure how to deal with suspicion. Claflin also brings every range of emotion to his Philip.
Glen as Kendall is clearly a man who Philip as respected but even he can not talk to the young man. Being a “Game of Thrones” watcher, it is truly awesome to see Glen take on a role that once again is filled with sincere feelings. Grainger as Louise is a young woman with her own heart that is aching but goodness is she good at getting things done. Whether finding out the truth or make a house a home, her agenda is patience.
Other cast include Andrew Knott as Joshua, Andrew Havill as Parson Pascoe, Tristam Davies as Wellington, Louis Suc as 12-year-old Philip, Poppy Lee Friar as Mary Pascoe and Katherine Pearce as Belinda Pascoe.
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The Blu-ray/DVD and Digital HD special features includes “Deleted Scenes,” “Promotional Featurettes, ” “VFX Progressions, ” “Scoring Session, ” “Gallery” and “Audio Commentary by Director Roger Michell and Kevin Loader.”
“My Cousin Rachel” is based on the 1951 novel by Daphne du Maurier. In 1952 Olivia de Havilland and a very young Richard Burton starred in the first telling of the novel in theatres. Geraldine Chaplin and Christopher Guard reprise the story with a BBC television mini-series in 1983.
Now director Michell brings his version of the novel “My Cousin Rachel” adding his own sense of the complications of life. The cast brings these characters from stage to screen along with amazing costuming, locations and an atmosphere ripe for a thriller that still leaves us all asking the question — did she or didn’t she?
He says of the film, “It’s a book that was written before the word feminism and feminists was even current and yet you can’t help but think that Daphne du Maurier saw this current just being around the corner when she wrote this at the bottom of her garden in the very cold 1950’s. I suppose I have teased out and exaggerated some of those elements I detected or felt in her writing in my film so that the leading character is more conscious about being an independent woman and a woman who is not frightened by her sexuality or apologetic about enjoying sex. She also doesn’t want to be in a world that is owned by men.”
It’s not secret that I am an avid fan of period pieces with all the pomp, pageantry, darkness and intrigue that are not hidden behind cgi and the like. Instead, this film breaks everything (and everyone) down to its rawest form leaving the viewer to decide for themselves. That is an amazing part of storytelling and “My Cousin Rachel” will have people still asking questions long after the film has ended.
Michell tells us, “It is a roller coaster of did-she-or-didn’t-she and I think that’s very exciting. I think that’s one part of it and I think it’s also without doubt it is a love story whether you like it or not. It is a desperate love story and a love story that goes wrong and still beguiling as a love story. It is also a beautiful mystery and I think people leaving the theatre will be arguing with each other about who did what. People going to have a drink after the movie with ‘come on she did it’ and someone else saying ‘come on she didn’t do it’.”
Which means watching “My Cousin Rachel” becomes an experience that will keep us all following the mystery!
In the end — love and madness sometimes go hand in hand.