My Cousin Rachel movie poster
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My Cousin Rachel
My Cousin Rachel movie poster

My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

Now available on Blu-ray and DVD (Buy on Amazon)

Rachel Weisz sizzles in My Cousin Rachel, a Victorian-era thriller that hints at sizzling but never actually does.

Sam Claflin stars as Philip, who suspects that his scorching cousin may have murdered her husband—the main who raised him. So he does what anyone would do in his shoes: he falls in love with her and tries to give her all of his money. Because of course.

Aside from playing the dumbest person on the planet, Claflin delivers a strong performance, largely matching Weisz step for step. But it’s Weisz, as the alluring, mysterious, unpredictable Rachel that steals the show—she captivates in every scene, critical given that she needed to be mesmerizing to lend even a modicum of believability that Claflin’s character could be so love-drunk.

Longtime readers know that I find most films set in this period to be dry and not particularly investing; thanks to writer/director Roger Michell’s moody, atmospheric style and fast pacing, My Cousin Rachel largely avoids the tropes you’d expect. Claflin and Weisz have strong chemistry together—adding an extra layer—and their attraction to each other, or at least Philip’s toward Rachel, feels organic and believable. The movie is simply well done in all facets.

Still, the story itself never fully clicks, especially for a dumb American like me who demands at least some stuff to actually happen in a two-hour movie. Michell does a good job of blending romantic drama with psychological thriller—and the movie thrives on the fact that it isn’t clear which way the story is ultimately going to go—but My Cousin Rachel never amounts to a whole lot. It ends more or less like the book, but the ending isn’t very satisfying. The mystery of cousin Rachel is intriguing, but mysteries need answers—and My Cousin Rachel refuses to meet such simple demands.

The film’s unwillingness to go a traditional path will appeal to those who like vagueness and nuance, but for most, My Cousin Rachel is a story that hints at something it never ends up being.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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