Did she? Didn’t she? . . . Rachel, my torment.
I really wanted to love this movie. Rachel Weisz headlining an adaptation of a Daphne Du Maurier psychological mystery-romance? My wheelhouse is occupied. The plot is fairly simple. A wealthy young man, played by Sam Claflin, and more on that later, comes to suspect that his cousin was murdered by Rachel, the cousin’s new wife/widow and determines to have revenge. But when he finally meets Rachel, he finds himself falling under her spell himself. It’s a classic set-up and a pretty well classic solution to the mystery, but the movie bumbles a lot along the way. Weisz is quite good, the only person in the movie that’s really able to land a solid performance. Sam Claflin continues to turn his Hunger Games cachet into starring roles and more power to him; some day he may learn to actually emote instead of flailing about and he may even attain the charisma of a wet dishcloth, but in this movie he’s flat and pretty bad and, since he’s the main character, it’s not easy to overcome this. It is worth noting that he is actually undercut by Pierfrancesco Favino who manages to somehow give a worse performance as a prissy Italian. Iain Glen is quite good in a supporting turn. The script isn’t terrible and Michell is genuinely interested in cranking the ambiguity up a notch from the ambiguity Du Maurier had already infused the story with and that helps with the final scene of the film immensely. But if the script isn’t bad, it also isn’t particularly good and even Weisz has some clunker lines that she can’t quite sell, so Claflin is entirely at sea. Still, to the good, the film does have genuine atmosphere and Michell has a great eye for beautiful images, whether he’s out on a majestic cliff or in a candle-lit hallway. But there’s just not enough here to come near to salvaging the movie. The titular Rachel is beguiling, but she’s stranded in a pretty dull movie. 2 stars.
tl;dr – Rachel Weisz gives a fine performance and the script has some nice moments, but Claflin is terrible in the lead and the film is sloppy, bumbling and ultimately pretty dull. 2 stars.