Movie review: Rebecca
By remaking source material that is about living in someone else's shadow, this uninspired romantic psychological thriller ironically falls short of filling those big shoes.
Currently streaming on Netflix, Rebecca is based on Daphne du Maurier's best-selling 1938 gothic novel of the same name, famously adapted for Alfred Hitchcock's 1940 film, which won him his only Best Picture Oscar.
In Ben Wheatley's lesser version, a young, naive and inexperienced newlywed (Lily James) moves into her troubled aristocratic husband Maxim de Winter's (Armie Hammer) imposing property, where she must contend with his sinister housekeeper Mrs Danvers (Kristin Scott Thomas) and that everyone in the household is haunted by the memory of Maxim's mysterious and seemingly perfect late wife Rebecca.
Our protagonist grows increasingly isolated and almost unravels after being continually undermined and sabotaged by Mrs Danvers.
Plot twists and revelations abound and the film's ending mirrors the novel's more than its award-winning predecessor does.
James and Hammer are hardly the most magnetic performers alive and their chemistry doesn't crackle enough, but they are at least great to look at.
The costume, set and production designs are also lush and sumptuous.
And seeing the fictional estate of Manderley - Maxim's grand mansion by the sea - come to life in glorious colour for the first time may make you want to instantly hashtag Rebecca's famous opening line ("Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again").
Unfortunately, this Rebecca has a muddled tone and serves up easy breezy consumption instead of gothic darkness, with the suspense, tension and intrigue nowhere near the Hitchcockian level.
In the first act, it sometimes even feels like we're watching Netflix's Emily In Paris (pretty middle-class girl falls for complicated hunk while holidaying in picturesque old-timey Monte Carlo), only with a dead ex thrown in and murder on the mind.