Lily James and Armie Hammer have come away unscathed as the Netflix film Rebecca was met with lukewarm reviews.
The drama around star James and actor Dominic West aside, the main takeaway from people who got an early look is director Ben Wheatley’s (A Field In England, High Rise) penchant for darkness appears to be largely absent.
‘Empty’, ‘underpowered’ and ‘mediocre’ are the early critics reactions to the latest version of Daphne Du Maurier’s 1938 novel.
It follows an unnamed, newlywed young woman (played by James) who returns to live at the imposing family estate of her new husband Maxim de Winter (Hammer) on the English coast. However she finds her life overshadowed by the memory of Maxim’s late first wife Rebecca, thanks in no small part to his menacing housekeeper Mrs Danvers (Kristin Scott Thomas).
NME described it as ‘not the worst’ adaptation of the book you will see, but with Wheatley’s out-of-the-box flair dimmed, Rebecca ‘ends up disappointing both camps – those hoping for a faithful update of a classic; and Wheatley stans looking for some top tier weirdness.’
It adds: ‘All in all, it’s frustratingly fine – and when there are so many other, better versions of this story available, that’s not quite good enough.’
Entertainment Weekly also lamented the lack of both Wheatley’s stamp and star Scott Thomas, calling the latter ‘the more serious crime’ in a ‘pretty, empty’ offering. However it praised James for bringing ‘her own strain of fierce, contained sweetness’ to her role.
The Guardian was much more scathing, although it did praise the film as ‘quite enjoyable in all its silliness and campiness and brassiness’.
The outlet’s main issue was with the Call Me By Your Name star: ‘He is just too forthright, too cornfed, patently unwounded – and, crucially, he doesn’t look like a man with a secret’, plus his love affair with the new Mrs de Winter was ‘obviously too sexed up’.
Variety was also hoping for something darker from the Kill List director: ‘In a way, [Wheatley] seems to have fallen into a similar trap to the one that snared Hitchcock: In both versions, the producers take a dominant hand, overriding some of the directors’ instincts.’
It went on: ‘…one suspects that maybe they didn’t let him go as dark as his instincts could have taken the material, making this return to Manderley a bit more combustible.’
Co-written by Jane Goldman, the film also stars Keeley Hawes, Sam Riley and Ann Dowd.
Rebecca is in cinemas on October 16 and on Netflix on October 21.
Credit: Original article published here.