My Cousin Rachel (2017 film)
|My Cousin Rachel|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Roger Michell|
|Produced by||Kevin Loader|
|Written by||Roger Michell|
|Based on||My Cousin Rachel|
by Daphne du Maurier
|Music by||Rael Jones|
|Edited by||Kristina Hetherington|
|Distributed by||Fox Searchlight Pictures|
|Box office||$9.2 million|
My Cousin Rachel is a 2017 romantic drama film, written and directed by Roger Michell, based upon the 1951 novel My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier. It stars Rachel Weisz, Sam Claflin, Iain Glen, Holliday Grainger, and Pierfrancesco Favino. It was shot in Italy and England in spring 2016 and is about a young man in Cornwall who meets the wife of his older cousin, suspecting her of being responsible for his death.
The film was released in the United States and United Kingdom on June 9, 2017 by Fox Searchlight Pictures. Weisz received positive reviews for her performance as the title character.
After the young boy Philip is orphaned, he is adopted by his older cousin Ambrose, who raises him as a son on his large estate in Cornwall. Despite societal beliefs of the necessity of motherhood, Philip grows up with a nearly complete absence of women in the household, before Ambrose leaves the estate for the sunnier climate of Florence. A young man, Philip is left with his godfather Nick Kendall, and learns through correspondence that Ambrose has met his widowed cousin Rachel in Florence, and they have wed. The Kendalls express surprise that Ambrose has become interested in women, though Philip found the absence of female companionship natural. Later, Ambrose begins sending letters indicating distrust of the medical care he is receiving in Florence. Concerned, Philip travels to Italy, only to be informed Ambrose has died and Rachel has left. Though Ambrose's will left the entire estate to Philip pending his next birthday, Philip is convinced Rachel is guilty of murder and threatens her friend Rinaldi with revenge.
Philip returns to Cornwall, and later learns Rachel has followed. She arrives at the estate, and while he vows to confront her, he meets her in the boudoir and is infatuated by the older woman's beauty as they share tea. They accompany each other on riding excursions, and no longer suspecting her of foul play, he throws an accusatory letter on a campfire. The two cousins conflict over Rachel's intentions to return to Florence and live independently, but Rachel indicates she is not angry with him, and they kiss. Rachel also reveals Ambrose had lost hope for her after a miscarriage. She stays for Christmas celebrations, when Nick receives bank information that she has drastically overdrawn her accounts. Nick warns Philip that Rachel was notorious in Florence for extravagance and lust. Despite this, Philip intends to turn over much of the estate's wealth to Rachel, as soon as he can legally dispose of it on his next birthday. The day arrives, and when Rachel realizes what he has done for her, she expresses gratitude. While out in nature, the two have sex. At a dinner with friends, Philip declares he and Rachel are engaged, but Rachel accuses him of madness. In private, she tells him she was merely thankful to him, but she was not bought and is not ashamed of having sex. This leads to a struggle, after which Rachel professes fear of him.
Sometime after, Philip falls ill. As he recovers, he is suspicious of Rachel and now starts refusing her "special tea." He suggests she ride the same path at which he had previously almost died by accident. He watches her as she leaves on horseback. He and Nick's daughter Louise begin searching through Rachel's belongings for any incriminating evidence, only to find out she apparently is innocent of an affair and the poisoning attempts Philip blames on her. When he sets out in search of Rachel, he finds she indeed has had a fatal accident while riding, on the same cliffside he directed her to. Years later, Philip, by then married to Louise and a father of two, is still, mentally and physically, tormented by Rachel's memory.
- Rachel Weisz as Rachel Ashley
- Sam Claflin as Philip
- Louis Suc as 12-year-old Philip
- Austin Taylor as 9-year-old Philip
- Iain Glen as Nick Kendall
- Holliday Grainger as Louise Kendall
- Andrew Knott as Joshua
- Poppy Lee Friar as Mary Pascoe
- Katherine Pearce as Belinda Pascoe
- Tristram Davies as Wellington
- Andrew Havill as Parson Pascoe
- Vicki Pepperdine as Mrs. Pascoe
- Bobby Scott Freeman as John
- Harrie Hayes as Tess
- Pierfrancesco Favino as Enrico Rainaldi
- Simon Russell Beale as Couch
The film is one of several recent adaptations of Daphne du Maurier's work. In January 2015, Fox Searchlight secured Roger Michell to direct the film and write the screenplay. It is the first cinematic adaptation of My Cousin Rachel since the 1952 film of the same name.
While writing the screenplay, Michell estimated du Maurier intended the story to be set in the 1830s based on the absence of railroads and presence of canals, and considered he had previously explored the time period with his Persuasion (1995), based on Jane Austen's work. A difference would be du Maurier's story involved more sex than Austen's.
In September 2015, it was announced Rachel Weisz was in talks to star in the film. She took the role, and envisioned the character as "sexually liberated". That same month, Sam Claflin joined the cast, stating he was interested because Philip was an ordinary, immature character, who was virginal until discovering Rachel.
In February 2016, Holliday Grainger joined the cast, followed by Iain Glen in March. Glen said that when he received the screenplay, he could see Michell had structured the mystery so that Kendall would believe one thing until another piece of evidence arose, and developed his performance accordingly.
Principal photography began on April 4, 2016, and lasted through the spring in England and Italy. With production designer Alice Normington, Michell selected filming locations in South Devon, Oxfordshire and Surrey, combining shots to create an idealistic setting. In Surrey, photography took place at West Horsley Place, a 16th-century building owned by Bamber Gascoigne. Michell said they selected the house for "the spirit of the place", which he described as "so alive and raw". Flete Estate, Devon was used for beach and riding scenes and shots of cliffs.
Weisz was costumed by Dinah Collin, who aimed for a fashion foreign to Cornwall, and consulted portraits to create an authentic classy appearance. The pearls used in the story were also made for the film, based on an 1835 painting. The crew decided on only two main dresses for the Rachel character, since she was not at home in Cornwall.
For the part, Weisz had to learn to ride a horse side-saddle, a feat made more challenging given her costume. The horse, previously used on the television production Game of Thrones, fell to the ground when it felt Weisz pull on its rein, as it had been trained to do for television, causing Weisz to fear for her safety.
In May 2016, two images from the film were released, featuring Claflin and Weisz. A trailer was released in January 2017, utilizing a cover version of the song "Wicked Game" by Chris Isaak. The film was scheduled for a limited release on May 5, 2017. However, the date was pushed back to July 14, and later moved up to June 9, 2017.
In the U.S. on that date, it was released in 500 places. Filming location West Horsley Place also hosted a showing of the film in June, to support efforts to turn the building into an arts centre. In Region 1, 20th Century Fox released the film on DVD and Blu-ray in August, with commentary and documentary shorts.
My Cousin Rachel grossed $2.7 million in North America and $6.4 million in other territories, for a worldwide gross of $9.2 million.
In its first weekend, My Cousin Rachel made £638,000 in 467 U.K. theatres, performing strongly in independently owned outlets. By July 3, My Cousin Rachel made £2.27 million in the U.K. In the U.S., it made $954,000 from 523 theatres in its first weekend.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 76% based on 123 reviews, with an average rating of 6.6/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Excellent cinematography and Rachel Weisz's entrancing performance keep My Cousin Rachel alluring despite a central mystery that's rather easily unlocked." On Metacritic, the film has average score of 63 out of 100, based on 34 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Mark Kermode awarded the film four stars in The Guardian, crediting Weisz for challenging the 1952 film's star Olivia de Havilland as the definitive Rachel, and Michell for his period direction. In The Hollywood Reporter, Sheri Linden praised it as "Handsome and richly atmospheric". Kenneth Turan highlighted Weisz's performance and the romantic mystery of the adaptation in The Los Angeles Times. Ignatiy Vishnevetsky of The A.V. Club said Michell was "making a welcome return to interesting movies" with this "mordant and fittingly morbid British film with a superbly cast Rachel Weisz." In Variety, Peter Debruge wrote Weisz's performance is "pure pleasure to watch". The Washington Post's Kristen Page-Kirby noted the film's emotions and the common experience of Philip's feelings of sexual entitlement. For The New York Times, Manohla Dargis wrote the scenery, cinematography and direction were consistently beautiful, but the film did not realize its full potential.
In June 2017, Fox Searchlight Pictures and Create Advertising London shared a Golden Trailer Award for Best Foreign Romance for their My Cousin Rachel trailer. At the British Independent Film Awards 2017, Dinah Collin was also nominated for Best Costume Design.
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