Rebecca (2020 film)
|Directed by||Ben Wheatley|
by Daphne du Maurier
|Edited by||Jonathan Amos|
|Music by||Clint Mansell|
Rebecca is a 2020 British romantic thriller film directed by Ben Wheatley from a screenplay by Jane Goldman, Joe Shrapnel, and Anna Waterhouse. Based on the 1938 novel Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, the film stars Lily James, Armie Hammer, Kristin Scott Thomas, Keeley Hawes, Ann Dowd, and Sam Riley.
Rebecca was released in select theatres on 16 October 2020, and digitally on Netflix five days later. It received mixed reviews from critics, who compared the film unfavourably to the 1940 version directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
While working for Mrs. Van Hopper, in Monte Carlo, a young woman becomes acquainted with Maxim de Winter, a recent widower. After a brief courtship, they become engaged. They marry and then head to his mansion in England, Manderley. She meets Mrs. Danvers, the housekeeper, who was devoted to his first wife, Rebecca, who died in a boating accident. The staff and Maxim's friends also were fond of Rebecca. Mrs. Danvers emphasizes the new Mrs. de Winter's inferiority by comparison. Jack Favell, Rebecca's cousin, comes to visit, saying that Mrs. Danvers invited him. Learning of this infuriates Maxim, who banned Favell from the grounds, and accuses Mrs. de Winter of infidelity, which she denies. She confronts Mrs. Danvers for conspiring against her by inviting Favell, demanding her resignation. Mrs. Danvers insists Favell was lying.
The two begin working amicably together, with Mrs. Danvers assisting Mrs. de Winter in reviving the Manderley Costume Ball. Mrs. Danvers suggests that Mrs. de Winter choose a dress of a de Winter ancestor. When she wears the dress, guests are shocked and Maxim is furious. Mrs. de Winter learns that Rebecca wore the dress the previous year. Realizing that Mrs. Danvers had manipulated her and believing that Maxim now regrets their marriage, she flees. Mrs. Danvers reveals her contempt for the new Mrs. de Winter, believing she is trying to replace Rebecca. She tries to convince Mrs. de Winter to jump to her death from the window. However, she is thwarted by a nearby shipwreck brought from the storm. The ship is Rebecca's and her decomposed body is discovered on board.
This reopens the investigation into Rebecca's death. Maxim confesses to his wife that his marriage to Rebecca was a sham and that he always hated her. He states she was cruel, selfish, adulterous, and manipulative. On the night of her death, she told Maxim that she was pregnant with another man's child, which she would raise under the pretense that it was Maxim's. She placed his gun to her chest and stated that the only way to be free of her was to kill her. Enraged, Maxim pulled the trigger, then disposed of her body by placing it in her boat and sinking it. Despite his confession, Mrs. de Winter is relieved to know that Maxim loves her and resolves to support him during the investigation. Favell attempts to blackmail Maxim, claiming to have proof that Rebecca did not intend suicide, in a note she had written.
The trial shows Rebecca's boat to have been deliberately sunk. Testimony from Mrs. Danvers implies Rebecca's visit to a London doctor shortly before her death had to do with the pregnancy. The prosecutor produces Maxim's cheque written to Favell for the note, and Favell accuses Maxim of murdering Rebecca. Maxim is placed under arrest. At Manderley, Mrs. Danvers reveals that Rebecca hated all the men in her life. Mrs. de Winter fires Danvers and locates Rebecca's doctor and reads Rebecca's file, which reveals Rebecca could not have been pregnant because of advanced uterine cancer and would have died within a few months. An investigator concludes Rebecca committed suicide by scuttling her boat, while Mrs. de Winter privately concludes that Rebecca wanted Maxim to kill her.
Absolved, Maxim and Mrs. de Winter drive home to find the mansion ablaze. A maid reveals that Mrs. Danvers started the fire and fled. Mrs. de Winter races to the cliffs, and finds Mrs. Danvers standing on a precipice. She pleads with Mrs. Danvers not to jump, but Mrs. Danvers curses the two of them to never know happiness and jumps into the sea and drowns. Awakening from a dream years later, Mrs. de Winter is with Maxim, as they search for their dream home.
- Lily James as Mrs de Winter
- Armie Hammer as Maxim de Winter
- Kristin Scott Thomas as Mrs. Danvers
- Keeley Hawes as Beatrice Lacy
- Ann Dowd as Mrs Van Hopper
- Sam Riley as Jack Favell
- Tom Goodman-Hill as Frank Crawley
- Mark Lewis Jones as Inspector Welch
- John Hollingworth as Giles Lacy
- Bill Paterson as Dr Baker
- Ben Crompton as Ben
- Jane Lapotaire as Granny
- Jeff Rawle as Frith
- Ashleigh Reynolds as Robert
It was announced in November 2018 that Lily James and Armie Hammer were set to star in the film, to be directed by Ben Wheatley, which Netflix would distribute. In May 2019, Kristin Scott Thomas, Keeley Hawes, Ann Dowd, Sam Riley, and Ben Crompton joined the cast of the film.
Filming began on 3 June 2019. Cranborne Manor in Dorset and Hartland Quay in Devon were used for filming in July 2019. In total, Rebecca was filmed at six different manors or estates. Along with Cranborne, Hatfield House was used for the interior hallways, Mapperton for Manderley's back garden (which is open for the public sometimes unlike the actual manor), Loseley Park for Manderley's east and west wing's master bedrooms and staircases, Petworth House for one of the corridors full of marble statues and paintings, and lastly Osterley Park for Manderley's kitchen.
The film was the most-watched on the site in its first two days of release, before finishing second over the weekend. It was out of the top 10 by the following weekend. In November, Variety reported the film was the 11th most-watched straight-to-streaming title of 2020 up to that point.
According to Rotten Tomatoes, 39% of 207 critics gave the film a positive review with an average rating of 5.40/10. The critics consensus on the website reads, "Ben Wheatley's Rebecca remake is ravishing to behold, but it never quite gets to the heart of the classic source material—or truly justifies its own existence." According to the review aggregator Metacritic, which sampled 38 reviews and calculated a weighted average of 46 out of 100, Rebecca received "mixed or average reviews".
Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave the film 2 out of 5 stars and wrote, "You can feel Wheatley... wanting to submit to the full bacchanalian horror of this sequence [the dress ball], and yet the story itself won't let him. This Rebecca leaves us with a secondary mystery – why precisely Wheatley wanted to do it." Constance Grady from Vox also gave the film 2 out of 5 stars and went even further, "Ben Wheatley has no business making a gothic romantic horror movie if he is not interested in gothic romantic horror, and on the evidence of this film, he is not." She concludes "Wheatley’s Rebecca is a horror film that is resolutely sure there is nothing horrifying going on here at all, actually."
- Rebecca (1940 film), American film adaptation of the novel directed by Alfred Hitchcock
- Rebecca (1997 miniseries), British-German miniseries adaptation of the novel directed by Jim O'Brien
- Rebecca (2006 musical)
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