When I first met the Textiliste, back at university, one thing that stood out was how well read she was and I wasn’t. To try and impress, or may be just to avoid looking ignorant I scoured her shelf in her room in Hall for guidance as to what I should read. The Liverpool poets were a good start – Brian Patten and Roger McGough – as well as A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog by Dylan Thomas, mainly because they were short. But I did note some of the longer fiction and one as Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. Not that I read it then. But I did later, after she suggested my own reading material lacked depth. Along with a whole host of other classic writers, I fell for the quality of the writing and the story telling.
Story telling? Odd expression. It should be story showing because the one thing Du Maurier doesn’t do is tell you and never is that more apparent than in the enigmatic character of Cousin Rachel.
It is a tremendous book that has been made into a film of quality and substance, the sort of thing that will be included in A level syllabuses – syllabae? – in the future. If there’s a touch of the overdone gauche in the male lead, there is nothing simplistic about Rachel Weisz portrayal of Rachel. The back story is well revealed and the supporting cast superior to many. At times the music is a touch obvious and the settings a little crass – the Christmas Wassailing completely OTT for instance.
I hope this isn’t a plot spoiler because, really, if you haven’t already read the book YOU SHOULD HAVE, but the speed with which, in the film, Philip falls for Rachel having been fully expecting a murderess is a little stretched, which isn’t the case in the book. But that is a minor gripe when set against a really rather splendid period piece that has done a very fine job of translating a wondrous novel to the screen.
I know, I know, this is almost gushing for one of my reviews and, in my defence, we went to the East Dulwich Picturehouse, opposite which is a really splendid gelateria. The combo of Madagascan Vanilla and Salted caramel was optimally priced and more than acceptable and probably created in my a more beneficent state of mind than is usual – a critic should always view a movie through the prism of frozen cream. But really, do see this one. As a period thingy goes it’s up there with Casablanca and the Titfield Thunderbolt. That really is a compliment!