audreyv’s review published on Letterboxd:
During their very first dinner together, Reynolds Woodcock informs his date Alma that he has no intention of compromising his current lifestyle by marrying. Ever. Alma takes this in stride, perhaps even as a challenge, and tells him that he doesn’t have to be strong for her. According to Alma, modeling for Woodcock was the first time she ever felt beautiful, and she is not about to give up her pursuit of this controlling, difficult man. Soon Alma has moved into the House of Woodcock, which is also occupied by Reynolds’s sister Cyril, who knows everything about her brother’s rituals, and seems as accepting towards Alma as Mrs. Danvers was towards Mr. de Winter’s second wife. Alma has no qualms about utilizing drastic methods to gain power in this situation, and does absolutely everything she can think of to wear down her beloved.
Alma's character was an enormous mystery to me, and her background is never revealed whatsoever; she is so completely without a past that I feel this must have been done intentionally, and I will continue pondering the reason. The film as a whole is essentially conflict after conflict, with no good reason to root for anyone in particular. The ending is perhaps unexpected, but I had no investment in these awful people’s pursuits, and nothing really left an impression on me. This felt much more generic than any other film of Anderson’s I’ve seen, but at least it's one of his shortest!