REMEMBER that VHS your mum would let you watch when you were off school sick? Mine was always Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca.
A strange choice for a young child, I now see. But I was so fascinated by this tale of mystery with its layers of secrets and lies, it always distracted me from the latest bout of tonsillitis.
So it was with trepidation I watched the remake of this classic. Thankfully, it isn’t a remake of Hitchcock’s at all. This classy adaptation of the Daphne Du Maurier book sees an admirable level of drama and psychological thrill.
From the moment it starts and those famous lines “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again” are spoken, my old excitement returned.
The no-named lead (Lily James), is clumsy-yet-clever companion to the wealthy and vulgar Mrs van Hopper. On a trip to Monte Carlo, she meets the distractingly handsome, recently widowed Maxim de Winter (Armie Hammer).
The pair have a whirlwind romance – they have sex on the beach and decide they are so desperately in love that they must wed within days, with Maxim saying: “I’m asking you to marry me, you little fool.”
Their news immediately sparks a bad reaction, with van Hopper ridiculing the union, saying: “When you trap a man between your legs, they don’t stick around for long.”
The newlyweds head to Maxim’s absolutely enormous, grand family home: Manderley. And so the ghost story begins.
The ghost being Maxim’s first wife, Rebecca. She is everywhere in Manderley. Her letters are on the desk, her hair is in the brush and her lipstick is on the R-embossed handkerchief.
Head of the house is Mrs Danvers (Kristin Scott Thomas) who Maxim introduces saying “Danvers runs the house. Don’t worry she’s not as scary as she seems.” Oh really Maxim? Isn’t she? Because, to me, she is one of the most terrifying characters in fiction.
Danvers is the original single white female – so driven by obsession for another woman, she is willing to do anything to keep that memory alive.
She is terrifyingly cold and stern, and played impeccably by Scott Thomas. Just as you think the relationship between Danvers and Mrs de Winter is irreparable, she seems to soften to her new lady of the house.
That is until a dizzying ball at the house causes chaos and heartache for the new bride. After this, secrets and lies start to pour out and fill the house with even more tension.
All this drama makes this adaptation lose pace a little and the moral of the story leaves a bad taste in the mouth – far more than it did during my tonsillitis days. I now struggle with Maxim’s behaviour and his new wife’s reasoning with it.
Yet this Rebecca is mostly glorious to watch – even though you will probably be team Danvers by the end of it.
- In cinemas now. On Netflix from October 21.
I AM GRETA
WHO is Greta Thunberg? To some kids she’s the hero who allowed them to skive off on a Friday.
To her fans she is the schoolgirl who can save the planet, to her detractors she is “mentally ill”.
This intimate documentary reveals that Greta is also a little girl who has lots of cuddly toys in her room, wears leopard-print socks and won’t eat when her dad tells her to.
The film follows the Swedish activist from the start of her protest two years ago in Stockholm aged 15.
Back then she just wanted Sweden to apply the Paris climate accord and said she wouldn’t go to school on a Friday until it did. Soon millions of children across the globe followed her lead and she found herself being treated like a rock star, who could meet the Pope.
While it is great to discover that this earnest girl does enjoy a laugh and giggle, more science would have been useful.
After she delivers a speech at the EU, President Jean-Claude Juncker waffles on about toilet flushing regulations.
A weary looking Greta takes off her translation headphones. Even if you don’t agree with everything she says, at that moment you will be Greta.
THERE are no fangs in this adaptation of Sheridan Le Fanu’s vampire story, which was printed more than 100 years ago. And boy, do I wish it had more bite.
This flickery-candled period drama, directed by Emily Harris, is set in a stately home with Broadchurch’s Hannah Rae as daydreamer Lara.
She has her left arm tied behind her back by her governess Miss Fontaine (Jessica Raine) in a bid to make her right-handed.
Lara is desperate for a friend, so when a horse and carriage crashes nearby and the passenger Carmilla (Devrim Lingnau) seeks refuge, she finally has a play thing.
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The pair bond – and even have the odd snog – all against her governess’s wishes. And as her friendship with potentially evil Carmilla grows, so do her bad dreams of blood and lust.
There’s nothing that makes me do an eye-roll more than a dream sequence in a film and I call upon them to be banned for ever.
With not particularly engaging performances from anyone involved – including Greg Wise and Tobias Menzies – there’s little to sink your teeth into.
- Tom Hanks has teamed up with his Captain Phillips director, Paul Greengrass, to make a story about the American Civil War called News Of The World.
- Sister Act 3 is in development, says Oscar-winning actor Whoopi Goldberg.
- Zero Dark Thirty actor, Jessica Chastain, has signed up to play an artist who decides to kill herself in Losing Clementine.
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