MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Ben Wheatley
Starring: Lily James, Armie Hammer, Kristin Scott Thomas
Runtime: 2 hr 1 mins
What It Is: Ben Wheatley’s 2020 reimagining of Hitchcock’s classic stars Armie Hammer and Lily James as a mysterious aristocrat, Maxim de Winter, and his new wife. The second Mrs. de Winter is relegated to living in the shadow of his deceased previous wife, the beautiful Rebecca, and finds herself thrust into conflict with the eerily obsessed Mrs. Danvers (played by Kristen Scott-Thomas).
What We Think: Rebecca is beautifully shot and painfully bland. It is not entirely unsuccessful at building up suspense–the film’s arc with the second Mrs. De Winter’s ball gown is a compelling one–but the stakes seem improbably low. At the heart of the film, there is a sort of apathetic melodrama; everything happens, but the actors’ lack of charisma renders nothing memorable. James lacks the life that Joan Fontaine embodied in her 1940 portrayal of Mrs. de Winter, and reduces her to a perpetually gasping period drama heroine a la Keira Knightley. Hammer looks and emotes with all the passion of a second-rate model in a Vineyard Vines catalog. Rumors of an extramarital affair between James and Hammer during filming seem questionable given their utter lack of chemistry. One wonders why the second Mrs. de Winter is willing to sacrifice her sanity for this dude. Scott-Thomas makes an admirable effort as Mrs. Danvers, but she innately projects a certain intelligence. Judith Anderson’s Hitchcockian Mrs. Danvers seemed almost childlike, which gave the character a pathos that Scott-Thomas’s lacks. There is nothing of the rejected child in her and a great deal of the scheming servant. This lack of duality compromises the complexity of the character.
Grade: C, It is enjoyable for the first 40 minutes, and stupid for the rest, when it becomes a lackluster courtroom drama. It is also quite pretty to look at. It is not noxious, but eminently forgettable.