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My Cousin Rachel

Directed by Roger Michell

UK, 2017

HOME, 21 June 2017

My Cousin Rachel

Rachel Weisz is Rachel, an older woman and European to boot.

She has been living in Florence (a brief rooftop scene shows the Duomo floating in the sky), she can speak Italian and German too. God knows what she makes of Philip (Sam Claflin), the naive English lad in whose ambit she finds herself.

What is interesting here is how all the stuff that fuels Philip’s desire for Rachel – her mysterious Florentine past, that foreign elegance, her ice-cold and white-hot sensuality, the eyes, cheekbones and lips that are Weisz’s own – also fuels his paranoia. She is a dangerous, beautiful animal. He suspects betrayal. It is as though sex and death, desire and fear coalesces around the figure of Europa, a Europa about which this young Englishman is profoundly ambivalent. And then she is lost.

It is a crisp adaptation of a savage tale, one of the best of Daphne du Maurier’s baroque melodramas.