Film Review: My Cousin Rachel (2017)

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I love romantic costume dramas. I love, love, love, love them. North & South, Pride & Prejudice, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Far from the Madding Crowd, Kurt Seyit ve Şura, The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society – I will watch any and all sweeping epic romances. So of course I so excited when My Cousin Rachel popped up on my streaming service. I just watched The Exception, so I really wanted something cheerful. Alas, My Cousin Rachel is decidedly not cheerful. It is absolutely gorgeous and gothic, though.

The film is adapted from the 1951 book by the same author who penned Rebecca (1938). Like Rebecca, My Cousin Rachel is also a tale of love, questions and suspense. I didn’t actually know the plot going in, so the ending took me totally by surprise. The central question of the storyline is: did Rachel kill Ambrose’s cousin? Ambrose, who was raised by his cousin, is devastated by his death, and the letter he finds from his cousin that alludes to Rachel’s culpability drives Ambrose to find the truth. He tracks down Rachel to confront her, only to fall passionately, obsessively in love with her himself. And her stories of his cousin start to make him wonder that perhaps he doesn’t have the whole tale.

The number of questions I had throughout and all the mysteries and what-ifs were very well done. Sam Claflin and Rachel Weisz have absolutely amazing chemistry but I couldn’t actually root for them because their characters just should not have been together. They were so toxic. But goodness, the acting in this is amazing and their chemistry was fantastic.

This is definitely an intriguing story that keeps you guessing throughout. Is Rachel the killer of Ambrose’s cousin? Is Ambrose imagining the entire thing? I went back and forth so many times, and I like how it seemed to go one way, and then the storyline flipped that theory on the head, so it went another way. And right up to the very, very end, you’re not sure at all who is lying to whom, and whose intentions are what.

Overall, the mysterious romantic nature of the film was very well done and I do want to try and pick up the novel at some point.

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