It’s been a while since I’ve seen a film starring the always excellent Rachel Weisz at the cinema – and her performance in My Cousin Rachel is certainly one I won’t forget in a hurry.
I’ll be honest from the off, I wasn’t expecting much from this big screen adaptation of the 1951 novel by Daphne du Maurier.
And, to a certain extent, the Roger Michell-directed mystery thriller lived up to my fairly modest expectations.
But there is no denying that Weisz puts in a magnetic performance here – and you’ll have plenty of questions as to the true nature of her minxy character long after the credits roll.
Set in 19th century Cornwall, the story follows Sam Claflin’s Philip, who was brought up as an orphan by his older relative Ambrose (also played by Claflin in a flashback).
However, when Ambrose – who Philip adores as a father figure – falls ill and is advised to move to Italy, he essentially becomes master of the huge estate his cousin owns.
With letters being the pair’s only way of communicating, Philip begins to hear of Ambrose’s love for his cousin Rachel (Weisz), with the pair soon marrying.
However, what initially sounds liked a marriage made in heaven quickly turns sour (at least in Ambrose’s correspondence) and, when news breaks of his surrogate-father’s death, Philip instantly suspects foul play on Rachel’s behalf.
For context, Philip himself considers women something of a foreign concept and has little or no interest in them or experience with them.
That is, barring Louise (Holliday Grainger), who is the daughter of his godfather Mr Kendall (Iain Glen), who clearly wants to marry him.
Philip becomes consumed with hate, which comes to a head when Rachel – who has no claim on any of Ambrose’s estate – comes to stay with him.
It’s often said that there’s a thin line between love and hate, though. That proves the case here, with Philip unable to hold his grudge against his cousin as they get to know each other.
I’ll not say too much more as I’d hate to spoil, but it’s fair to say that taming the young master is child’s play for Rachel, who oozes sex appeal… and knows it.
And, with Philip set to inherit Ambrose’s estate on his upcoming 25th birthday, you can imagine where the story wants to lead the audience.
As touched upon above, My Cousin Rachel is only really memorable for Weisz’s excellent performance.
She steals every scene she’s in – and it’s incredibly hard to figure out if her character is genuine or a conniving tease.
Claflin’s Philip is nowhere near as interesting, which can also be applied to the rest of the film as a whole.
It’s hard to explain why without spoiling, but there are some glaring plot holes that disrupt the flow of the film, too.
I often found myself switching off, especially when Weisz wasn’t on screen, which is never a good sign.
But, if you like a good period drama, you’ll no doubt lap My Cousin Rachel up.
And, although it plods along at a pedestrian pace, Weisz’s performance alone makes it worth a watch.
Voice Verdict: 6/10 (reviewed at Boston West End Cinema)
+ Weisz’s performance
+ Keeps you guessing
– Quite slow and dull at times
– Plot holes
Boston’s West End Cinema (Fri, June 23 to Thurs, June 29)
**BABY DRIVER (15)
1pm (Sat/Sun/Wed), 3.40pm (daily), 6pm (daily), 8.20pm (daily)
**TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT (12A)
2D – 10am (Sat/Sun), 1pm (Sat/Sun/Wed), 8pm (daily)
3D – 4.45pm (daily)
THE MUMMY (15)
2D – 4pm (not Mon), 6.20pm (not Tues), 8.45pm (not Wed/Thurs)
DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: THE LONG HAUL (U)
10am (Sat), noon (Sat/Sun), 2pm (Sat/Sun)
WONDER WOMAN (12A)
2D – 2.20pm (Fri/Sat/Sun/Wed), 8.20pm (not Mon)
3D – 11.20am (Sat/Sun), 5.20pm (daily)
1.30pm (Wed), 4pm (Mon), 6pm (not Mon/Wed)
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: SALAZAR’S REVENGE (12A)
2D – 12.30pm (Sat/Sun/Wed), 3.15pm (Fri/Sat/Sun), 3.30pm (Mon-Thurs), 8.30pm (not Wed)
THE BOSS BABY (U)
2D – 10am (Sat/Sun)
Sat/Sun 10.15am – Sing 2D (U)
Wed 11.30am –Wonder Woman 2D (12A)
Tuesday 6.20pm – The Mummy (15)
**FREE LIST SUSPENDED
South Holland Centre
(Fri, June 23 to Thurs, June 29)
ALIEN: COVENANT (15)