How do you follow up Alfred Hitchcock? The 1941 Rebecca was famously the only film Hitchcock directed that nabbed a Best Picture win at the Oscars, and remains to this day, a beloved adaptation of the Daphne du Maurier Gothic classic. But can Ben Wheatley‘s new version hold a candle to Hitchcock’s film, or even du Maurier’s haunting novel? We’ll have to see once it hits Netflix this October. Watch the Rebecca trailer below.
“Last night, I dreamt I went to Manderly again…” The famous opening lines of du Maurier’s Rebecca hint at an eerie Gothic drama that will unfold, and Hitchcock’s version delivered with a moody psychological thriller (albeit one that was limited by Hays Code-era censorship). The result was Hitchcock’s only Best Picture win and a bonafide Gothic classic. Now Ben Wheatley, one of the most promising rising directors after critical hits like High Rise and Free Fire, is putting his spin on Rebecca.
Lily James stars as a mousy, naive young newlywed to the handsome widower Maxim de Winter (Armie Hammer), who arrives at his imposing mansion of Manderly, only to be greeted by servants and residents still loyal to his first wife, the elegant Rebecca. The new Mrs. de Winter finds herself terrorized by the sinister housekeeper Mrs. Danvers (Kristen Scott Thomas), who is bent on keeping the ghost of Rebecca alive.
As a fan of both du Maurier’s novel and Hitchcock’s film, I was pretty stoked about this adaptation, having liked Wheatley’s Free Fire and been excited about the casting. But after watching the trailer, I’m mixed on the casting of Hammer as Maxim de Winter. The 34-year-old actor feels too young to play the tormented Mr. de Winter, usually depicted as an enigmatic older man with a mysterious past, who was an intriguing twist on the typical Gothic romantic lead. The age gap between the older Maxim and the younger Mrs. de Winter was intentionally uncomfortable, and with Hammer and Thomas so close in age, it just feels like a steamy romance embedded in a haunted house story.
Here is the synopsis to Rebecca:
After a whirlwind romance in Monte Carlo with handsome widower Maxim de Winter (Armie Hammer), a newly married young woman (Lily James) arrives at Manderley, her new husband’s imposing family estate on a windswept English coast. Naive and inexperienced, she begins to settle into the trappings of her new life, but finds herself battling the shadow of Maxim’s first wife, the elegant and urbane Rebecca, whose haunting legacy is kept alive by Manderley’s sinister housekeeper Mrs. Danvers (Kristin Scott Thomas). Directed by Ben Wheatley (High Rise, Free Fire) and produced by Working Title Films (Emma, Darkest Hour), REBECCA is a mesmerising and gorgeously rendered psychological thriller based on Daphne du Maurier’s beloved 1938 gothic novel.
Rebecca premieres on Netflix on October 21, 2020.
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