-A darkly enriching thriller starring the always-reliable Rachel Weisz, and a frustrating debut from Eleanor Coppola.
My Cousin Rachel is the perfect summer indie film. It has just enough dramatic flair and well-written tension, but clearly is not the kind of serious biopic that you expect to get in Oscar season. Directed by a pretty famous French filmmaker named Roger Michell, the movie manages to create a really interesting backdrop with strong costumes and period piece production, while getting the most out of a breakout performance from Sam Claflin.
The story focuses on a young man (Claflin) who inherits his uncle’s massive estate in England when the uncle meets a young woman (Weisz), marries her, and moves to Italy. He soon receives notices about his uncle’s failing health and cryptic messages that implicate his new wife in a negative scheme. With his godfather (Iain Glen) at his side, he plans to confront this new woman when she comes to visit the estate, but she has larger schemes at play.
The tension that this movie creates truly is worthwhile. There’s a very sodden, classic style to the more thrilling aspects of the plot, and Rachel Weisz does a great job in conveying a femme fatale menace. The movie doesn’t do much hiding of the plot details, instead letting us follow the plot pretty easily and just slowly putting doubt in our minds about Rachel Weisz’s motivations. She’s always good, and plays this role with a deceptive sophistication, but the real catch is Claflin. Sam Clafin attempted to break out with Me Before You, but finally shows his acting chops in this movie, playing a fairly physical role and managing to play a very emotive character. I was impressed with him, and frankly, was impressed with every performance in this movie.
The real catch is the scenery and the costumes, taking us back to a previous era with ease and you really buy the various fieldhands and servants having the awkward rapport with Claflin’s character.
The real problem is the ending, and the inability for the film to become a sum of its parts. It has a bit of predictability and fallible plot devices that don’t quite work as well as the beginning. However, the performances and scenery are great, and this works really well as a fun summer indie.
My Cousin Rachel (2017)
Director: Roger Michell (Le Week-End, Venus, Notting Hill, Changing Lanes, The Mother)
Starring: Sam Claflin, Rachel Weisz, Iain Glen, Holliday Grainger, and Andrew Knott
RT Score: 74%
I don’t think I’m an exception when I look forward to a new movie by anyone from within that Coppola family, because they consistently produce great movie after great movie. Eleanor, the wife to Francis Ford, has decided to make her feature film debut after years of working on behind the scenes documentary projects. The results of being a first time director are predictable, boring, and frustratingly horrible.
The movie focuses on a fashionista wife (Diane Lane) who is married to a famous movie producer (Alec Baldwin). When the producer has to take off to supervise the shooting of a new movie, his assistant (Arnaud Viard) offers to take his wife to Paris, meeting up with him in a few weeks. So, a cross-country roadtrip ensues, with plenty of expensive dinner stops and sightseeing.
There isn’t much to say about this movie. The most egregious problem is actually the sound editing, where the movie’s volume in conversation randomly changes, and the film feels edited very poorly, thus reflecting the sound problems. The production, being run by a first-time director, is obviously flawed, which takes away from the potential scenery consumption that could save this movie.
The performances aren’t great, but considering the script, they didn’t have much to work with. Diane Lane (and if you’ve seen the movie, can you explain her ear problems that suddenly disappear?) does the best she can, as does Arnaud Viard, to try and sell this script, but there’s clearly no hidden passion between these actors that would accentuate any underlying sexual tension. What happens instead is a pretentious two-hour excursion into European liberalism, and I’d rather never hear of this movie again.
Paris Can Wait (2017)
Director: Eleanor Coppola (X)
Starring: Diane Lane, Arnaud Viard, and Alec Baldwin
RT Score: 49%