Netflix’s Rebecca managed to both update and respect the source material. The film was visually stunning, paying very close attention to the colours being used in each scene. Both Monte Carlo and Manderley are a beautifully immersive window into the lives of the rich in the 1930s.
The stylistic overlap of different scenes was an excellent device in telling this story, leaving the viewer feeling less like an observer to the events and more like they were privy to the heroine’s own reflections and memory.
The performances from Lily James and Armie Hammer were extremely convincing. James mastered the arc of the second Mrs de Winter, from an awkward and inexperienced young woman to calculated and confident wife. Her transition was complimented by the more human approach taken towards the character of Mrs Danvers, played by Kristin Scott Thomas. Alongside Favell (Sam Riley), Thomas’ performance argued that Danvers’ actions are a result of her heartbreak, which is far clearer in this new version.
This makes the character more terrifying than any previous interpretation, and also more understandable. Hammer’s character of Maxim de Winter lacked the sharp and mysterious anger demonstrated previously by the likes of Charles Dance (Rebecca, 1997) and Laurence Olivier (Rebecca, 1940), but captured his anxiety perfectly. But the leads were not the most interesting characters, as Beatrice and Clarice easily steal the show.
The changes in plot were few and well-selected, including the preparations for the Manderley Ball, lulling both the viewer and heroine into a false sense of security. The biggest flaw was with the oddly out-of-place 60’s song by Pentangle “Let No Man Steal Your Thyme”, which although has interesting links to British folklore and culture, sounded very disjointed from the rest of the score.
This new version of Rebecca is faithful, beautiful to watch, and hauntingly believable.
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Last modified: 30th October 2020