Movie Adaptation Review: “My Cousin Rachel” (2017)

“She has done for me at last, Rachel my torment.”

My Cousin Rachel

Rating: 3 out of 5.

First off, it is quite embarrassing how behind I have been posting blogs these past couple of months, so I apologize. A plan is in motion to get back into my reading routine so hopefully I will be posting some book reviews soon!

I read My Cousin Rachel earlier this year and had wanted to watch the movie to see the comparison. However, I find that I am somewhat disappointed.

Book vs. Film

Cast

Sam Claflin as Phillip – I tend to like Claflin in anything due to his acting range and ability to perform diverse roles. However, the jealous rather tempestuous Philip that he portrayed in this film was more disappointing to me than the sad sap I felt sorry for in the book. Whether the moody Phillip that was created for the film was Claflin’s fault or that of the director/screenwriters is unknown to me, but I wasn’t a fan of the character, no matter how well Claflin portrayed him. I did like that he played both Phillip and his cousin Ambrose to show the parallels of Rachel’s destruction.

My Cousin Rachel Reviews - Metacritic
From metacritic.com

Rachel Weisz as Cousin Rachel – Weisz also gave a good performance, though she did not seem as shy as she was portrayed in the book; I wonder if the film creators wanted her character to have a more “modern” appeal to audiences as a sociable and quick-witted woman instead of a quiet and demure one.

Aesthetic

I think the film nailed the gothic mood of the setting. The mild weather, dark lighting of the house, and era-appropriate costumes all contributed to the overall lighthearted, yet sinister, mood of the movie.

My Cousin Rachel: Daphne du Maurier's take on the sinister power of sex |  Books | The Guardian
From theguardian.com

Differences *spoilers*

Rebecca’s demise. I’m not sure whether I preferred the ending of the book or the film. In the book, Rachel dies after a bridge collapses, while in the movie, a foreshadowed cliff collapse was used for her demise. Although I liked how the fall was foreshadowed by Phillip nearly falling off the same way, I felt sorrier for Rachel’s poor horse.

Louise. While Louise did not seem as present in the book as in the movie, I was glad to see her as the voice of reason to the annoyingly whiny Phillip. She quickly became my favorite character because of this. I do not recall her ever conversing with Phillip in the book, so it was a nice addition.

My Cousin Rachel, 2017 Edition –
From thecultureconcept.com

Additional sex scene. In the book when Phillip went to bed with Rachel, it never revealed any details, just that they slept together…which is enough information for me as a reader. In the movie, they also made this a non-explicit scene, which I was relieved about. However, the additional scene the following day was not something I wanted in the film and did not understand why another sex scene was included; the addition of it just made me hate Phillip even more since the uncomfortable expression on Rachel’s face made it seem more like rape.

Rainaldi. I don’t remember Rainaldi being gay…was this just for the movie?

My Cousin Rachel (2017) - Photo Gallery - IMDb
From imdb.com

Overall, this was an okay adaptation, but I was not a fan of some of the changes they made to an otherwise good story; the protagonist was static and rather unlikeable, the villain was more appealing than the protagonist (as the film creators no doubt tried very hard to do), and the additional scenes didn’t seem to help the story progress. It was visually appealing for what it was, regarding the scenery and overall gothic mood of the story, but other than that the adaptation was “meh” to me.

Content Advisory

Language:2/5 (swearing a couple of times; words like “da*n”)
Sex:3/5
Violence:3/5 (some thematic violence; ex. a horse gets shot)
Gore:3/5

Published by Ashley Weaver

I am a writer, reader, student, and teacher of literature and the English language.

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