Rebecca

Rebecca ★★½

Tackling Daphne Du Maurier’s celebrated novel was already going to be a daunting task, had it not already been the source of acclaimed director Alfred Hitchcock’s first masterpiece, so director Ben Wheatley had the odds stacked against him from the get go. And while his Netflix adaptation of Rebecca has its merits - Kristin Scott Thomas is a marvellous Mrs. Danvers, just about living up to the memory of Dame Judith Anderson - it, like the film’s protagonist, can’t help but struggle thanks to the memory of the earlier incarnation. Armie Hammer is handsome but in terms of range he’s no Laurence Olivier, and his De Wynter is fairly one more, with little chemistry shared with Lily James’s new Mrs De Wynter, looking appropriately waifish and gorgeous onscreen but failing to truly compel. The period production design is gorgeous, with Netflix clearly spending a few pennies on getting the visuals right, the filmmakers get to go to a darker place than 1940s censors would permit Hitchcock to, and it’s nice to see Keeley Hawes and perennial MVP Ann Dowd in smaller roles, but ultimately the experience feels rather empty.