80 years after the release of Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece which won an Academy Award for Best Picture, Director Ben Wheatley (“High-Rise”) returns to Manderley to film another take of one of the most beloved gothic romances of 20th century.
Based on a novel by Daphne Du Maurier, “Rebecca” is the story of a young nameless maid who casually meets a wealthy aristocrat, recently widowed, Maxim De Winter. She gets fascinated by the mysterious man, whose recent loss is the talk of the entire high society of Monte-Carlo, and whose dead wife, Rebecca, was apparently one of the most lively and fascinating persons ever. The two, lonely in their own way, befriends and a romance soon starts. They got married and move to his fantastic villa on the coast, Manderley, where the memory of Rebecca still lingers, kept extremely alive by the powerful manager of the house, the eerie Mrs. Danvers. The young Mrs. De Winter will find herself soon to fear for her own life while dark secrets come out of the past.
Ben Wheatley takes an approach definitely more contemporary and explicit to the narrative material by Du Maurier. The result is a honest movie, which is perfect for a relaxed night, but definitely steals nothing from the legendary feature by the Master of Suspense itself. However, it is quite surprising that if the two leading actors have to confront themselves with the performances by two legends like Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine, but manage to do a honest job, it is the usually great Kristin Scott-Thomas to sink in the role of Mrs. Danvers. Her grins and explicit hate create a very predictable and possessive villain, whereas Judith Anderson (who got a very well deserved nomination for Best Supporting Actress), still, cold and subtle, definitely created a character unforgettable in her madness, all played in a low key.
Enjoy this remake but don’t forget to turn back to Hitch for the true masterpiece.