2020 and all the social distancing that it has brought has pushed us closer to, and made us all more reliant on, streaming sites now more than ever before. It comes as no surprise that companies like Netflix are producing their own, particularly varied range of content.
One of Netflix’s latest releases, Rebecca, was a bit of a sleeper hit when first released recently. However, it has since become a lot more popular and has been met with very mixed reviews – audiences either completely love or hate Rebecca, there is no middle ground.
When Daphne du Maurier wrote the novel Rebecca, she admitted that the story was inspired by jealousy and insecurity. Several years before she wrote the book, she discovered love letters to her husband from his seemingly perfect former fiancée who had tragically taken her own life. Worried that she was now competing with a ghost, du Maurier channelled her anxieties into what became a bestselling novel about a mousy young woman who married the wealthy, attractive and mysterious Maxim de Winter.
Rebecca, as it turns out, is not the name of the story’s protagonist, but the name of Maxim’s former wife who was killed in an unexplained boating accident. The second Mrs de Winter, played by Lily James, becomes the ill-prepared mistress of his estate, Manderley. Her timid, shy and doe-eyed character is no match for the villainous housekeeper (played by Kristin Scott Thomas), who still holds allegiance to Rebecca, and is determined to do so forever more, regardless of the fact that she was killed almost a year earlier.
The cast is a talented one, but they are lacking a bit in depth. Lily James’ character comes off as more immature than naïve, while Armie Hammer struts about his expansive manner, goes away on unexplained trips and spends the rest of the film skulking in dark corners. He seems to be acting like more of a moody teenager than anything else.
Perhaps the one cast member carrying the film in Kristin Scott Thomas, who plays the unexplainably cold and creepy Mrs Danvers. The cast feeds off of her energy, which she brings in what is probably one of her best roles in recent years. She does a fantastic job, but be warned – she is not particularly likeable.
Rebecca has received lots of criticism but also plenty of praise and its sure to be fun for all too. As a story removed from the novel, it works quite well. However, the fact that the novel gave the cast so much to live up to might not make for a fair assessment of the film.
Is it the thriller of the year? No, not by any means. However, it is certainly worth a watch, and is as entertaining as a horse fair or tense race. It moves slowly, there are no jump scares but like with any thriller, the slow moving pace of it all makes every hair on one’s body stand on end. Have your popcorn ready for this one, if only for Kristin Scott Thomas’ wonderfully creepy performance. You will have chills down your spine before you even hear her say her first line.