MY COUSIN RACHEL — Review by Susan Granger

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Daphne du Maurier’s 1951 novel is the epitome of Gothic melodrama, filled with an insidious sense of danger and death. Orphaned at an early age, Philip Ashley (Sam Claflin) was raised by his bachelor uncle Ambrose on a picturesque country estate on England’s Cornish coast. Content with his horses and dogs, Ambrose “never had much need for women.” Yet on a trip to Florence, Italy, elderly Ambrose met and married his distant cousin Rachel (Rachel Weisz). Soon after, he fell ill and died. Continue reading…

Callow, self-centered 24 year-old Philip blames Rachel for his uncle’s death and when she arrives in Cornwall, he meets her with hatred in his heart.

But he’s inexorably drawn to this calm, charming woman who manipulates him with the same sophisticated skill by which she brews her mysterious herbal teas by candlelight.

Soon, peevish Philip is besotted by the beautifully beguiling, black-lace veiled Rachel, much to the dismay of his godfather, Mr. Kendall (Iain Glen), whose sensible daughter, Louise (Holliday Grainger), everyone presumed Philip would eventually marry.

Adapted and directed by Roger Michell (“Notting Hill”) as a costume drama, it lacks the essential emotional menace and momentum of Du Maurier’s narrative which so clearly delineated an irrepressible, independent woman who, despite mid-19th century society’s restrictions, was determined to live life on her own terms.

While Rachel Weisz (“Denial”) embodies the duality of du Maurier’s inscrutable, yet irresistible Rachel, unfortunately, Sam Claflin (“Me Before You”) never quite grasps impetuous Philip’s essential dilemma.

FYI: After Greta Garbo and Vivien Leigh turned down the titular role, the first “My Cousin Rachel” (1952) starred Olivia de Havilland and Richard Burton; it was nominated for four Academy Awards.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “My Cousin Rachel” is a stylish, seductive 6, leaving us to wonder: Did she? Didn’t she?

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.