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Featured Movie Reviews

My Cousin Rachel


Equal elegant portions murder mystery, period drama, romance and tragedy, 2017's MY COUSIN RACHEL pulls you in immediately.

We meet Phillip as a young boy, adopted by his older cousin when his own parents die.

Soon Philip is in his early twenties and well played by Sam Clafin (The Hunger Games).

When Philip hears that his hero has met another cousin Rachel and fallen in love, he grows jealous, confiding in his company lawyer Kendall (Iain Glen from "Game of Thrones", exceptional here) that he doesn't trust the woman.

Philip begins getting cryptic letters from his adopted father, painting a picture that he's in danger from Rachel, who he thinks is trying to kill him.

Philip sets off for Florence immediately, but discovers that the man is already dead, news he gets from a stranger named Rainaldi (Piefrancesco Favino).

Philip returns to the country estate and business that he now solely owns, filled with hatred and suspicions for this cousin Rachel that he's never met.

But meet her he does.

Rachel arrives months later,oozing class, beauty and charm. She's well embodied by Rachel Weisz (Youth, The Mummy).

Philip is ready to hate her and throw her from the estate, but he encounters a very different woman than he expects.

Soon, young Philip begins to fall in love.

And that's when things go haywire in this terrific screenplay from Writer/Director Roger Mitchell (Notting Hill) based on a novel by classic English mystery writer Daphne Du Maurier (The Birds, Rebecca, Don't Look Now).

I never knew what these characters were really thinking. Why do they do what they do? Who is being played?

It's a lot of fun to go for the ride in this quiet thriller that feels like Hitchcock, updated to today's more frankly sexual mores. There were moments that also felt like Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Phantom Thread", even though the settings are many years apart.

I never expected the ending and it was, for me, literally jaw dropping. I turned to Tamara and said "I didn't see THAT coming..."

There's no better compliment to a movie than that for me.

Clafin and Weisz are both excellent.

Michell wraps the whole film in big, sweeping David Lean-like sweeping crane shots that swoop out over cliffs or settle in on a hidden spot in the forest.

Like Cousin Rachel, it casts quite a spell.

As Philip says in the same voiceover that both begins and ends the story, "Did she? Didn't she? Who was to blame?"

Indeed.

MY COUSIN RACHEL gets an A.

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