Movie Review: Netflix’s “Rebecca”

Rating: 4 out of 5.

There were things I liked better in the movie and things I liked better in the book, but overall, I think there was an even judgment on my part between the what the portrayals of the book and the movie did well.


For those of you who are not familiar with the classic gothic tale, Rebecca is a story about a young woman who falls in love with an older gentleman named Maxim and begins her life as mistress of his sizable family estate of Manderley. Maxim’s first wife Rebecca had recently died under mysterious circumstances and the longer our protagonist resides at the manor, the more she feels the woman’s eerie presence grow stronger.


In the film, Lily James portrays the young protagonist—who, like in the book, remains nameless—and Maxim is played by Armie Hammer. I think they each did a good job, though I think Lily portrayed her character a bit more naïve than I originally imagined her character to be; it may have been due to the lack of first-person narration (absent except for at the film’s introduction and conclusion). I also think they casted Maxim a little younger than I previously imagined him; I thought he would have looked at least 25 or so years older than our protagonist.


As for the other characters, I liked the portrayal of Jack Favell—done by actor Sam Riley, who I enjoyed seeing again in scenes with Lily James after their hilariously compatible chemistry in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I also applauded the presentation of the psychotic Mrs. Davers performed by actress Dame Kristin Scott Thomas. Her sallow countenance and her subtle hints at her sinister nature convinced me that this was one character who was portrayed right on the nose.

I also liked how we never see Rebecca’s face and have to imagine who she was based off of the stories Maxim and others told about her. It keeps us asking, “who’s narration is more reliable?” which adds depth to the overall mystery.


Book vs. Film Comparison

(interpretation based off of my reading of the abridged audiobook)

Beginning. There is a lot more exposition about the development of Maxim and his new wife’s relationship in the film versus the book. We see more of their courtship as well as some of the back history of our protagonist.

Ending. We also get a more closure-filled wrap-up instead of a hefty cliffhanger like we get in the book. The film concludes with the destruction of Manderley, but we also see what happens to Mrs. Danvers, Favell, Maxim, and our protagonist after its destruction.


Overall, I enjoyed this interpretation and would watch it again. I have yet to see the other film adaptations of Rebecca that have been previously done but I plan to watch them, not only because I am a fan of the story, but so I may make further comparisons about how people interpret this classic tale.

Content Advisory

Language:2/5 (swearing a couple of times; words like “da*n”)
Sex:2/5 (sensuality; one make out scene; sex is implied but not shown)
Violence/Gore:2/5 (suspense; violence is more talked about than shown)
Drugs/Alcohol:4/5 (smoking)

Published by Ashley Weaver

Author of historical fiction with a hint of the supernatural/fantasy

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