From the opening we have questions, through the watching of the movie we gain context on those questions and will probably form our own opinion, but no answers. Few can have the gut to attempt such a feat let alone tell their story successfully.
My Cousin Rachel is a Gothic mystery, though not like many, due to it’s ambiguity. It is a tale of treachery, love and how there are secrets that people carry and sometimes you will never know them.
The movie opens with voice over from our main character Philip (Sam Claflin) asking the questions that will drive the movie and establishing his backstory. He grew-up being adopted by his cousin Ambrose and living a very happy life. When he grows up he leaves for Italy, leaving Philip alone. He writes to him, telling him that he’s met a woman named Rachel and have gotten married, through time he also writes that he’s getting ill. One letter arrives though, saying that she is the cause of his illness and he needs help. Philip goes to Italy but when he arrives Ambrose is dead and Rachel has left the estate. Philip is certain that Rachel killed him and vows revenge, however it is said and confirmed in the death certificate that he died of a brain tumour which caused delirium. Philip doesn’t accept it and prepares his home to be a trap for Rachel.
However when she does arrive it is followed by Philips plans not quite going as he intended and her melting away of all expectations. She is pretty, charming and humorous. Philip, who has spent such little company with women before, is no match for such charm. Suddenly he is telling his godfather (Ian Glen) and God-sister (Holiday Grainger) of all her fine qualities.
Rachel Weiz as Rachel is able to display this character as so many things. Instantly full of life and likeable, sad and grieving, but also flash hints of possible sinister intentions. It is in these little moments, that amount to a glance here and there and certain notes in her voice that make you guess that there might indeed be something else.
The movie is all about details, the binding of legal contracts, a phrase a character says, a precious possession that is worth so much. The words and phrases crystallize throughout and after the watching, becoming symbols of the story itself.
If you like you movies to be simple and at the end wrapped up in a nice bow then this is not the movie for you. If you like to be challenged, even a little bit then I believe you’ll be intrigued and drawn into this world of doubt and misconception.