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My Cousin Rachel (7/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 91 minutes.

OK for children.

Reprising a movie starring superstars Richard Burton and Olivia de Havilland is no easy task, even though the movie was made more than 60 years ago. But this outing, directed and adapted from Daphne Du Maurier’s best-selling novel for the screen by Roger Mitchell, can stand on its own with Sam Claflin and Rachel Weisz replacing Burton and de Haviland, respectively.

The story of a young heir, Philip Ashley (Claflin) and his relationship with his deceased guardian’s widow, Rachel (Weisz) is captivatingly told. Philip has been brought up without his mother and in a very sheltered environment and although highly suspicious of Rachel, she is not even close to what he perceived her to be. To call Rachel enigmatic and inscrutable doesn’t do her justice. Both main players give fine performances, the best of which is by Claflin who captures Phillips immaturity and naïveté perfectly.

Philip has returned to the great estate to claim his inheritance from his guardian. Was Rachel complicit in the guardian’s death? Is she still out to get the inheritance?

Set in the eighteen thirties this well-paced film is enhanced by fine cinematography (Mike Ely) and exceptional production design and costume design (Alice Normington and Dinah Collin, respectively).