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My Cousin Rachel plays a fascinating psychological game

My Cousin Rachel is enjoyable but not ambitious.

It should be good.

At this point he becomes so knuckle-headed that it's nearly refreshing to see his life subsequently fall apart.

My Cousin Rachel may not be the most nuanced or sedate adaptations ever made, but its atmospheric beauty, and at times laugh-out-loud melodramatic air is sure to have something for everyone. How does a movie tangled in mystery and deception end up dragging through its 106-minute runtime like a sloth in a city marathon? He is, moreover, disagreeable about women, whom he regards as an alien race, despite the fact that the lovely young Louise (Holliday Grainger), daughter of family lawyer Mr Kendall (Iain Glen), is plainly in love with him. Of course, he is soon every bit as smitten with Rachel as Ambrose was. And when Rachel later arrives unexpectedly at his estate, Philip finds himself infatuated with her, quickly absolving her of Ambrose's death and pursuing her hand in marriage. Weisz is by necessity cooler and trickier to read: is the alluringly veiled Rachel an agent of seduction or misrule?

Rachel this time is played by Rachel Weisz. In a way, it's the point of the entire movie. When Rachel decides to come to Cornwall to visit Philip, it is his intention to exact revenge.

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The actress, who is known for being reserved when it comes to publicity and her celebrity status, admitted that her mum doesn't like her telling people she was expelled, preferring the term "asked to leave". In this case, Philip believes his uncle has been murdered, but can't accuse Rachel outright.

A strong story of ambiguity gives enough evidence to infer Rachel isn't a murderer, and while characters give evidence it's never given any proper resonance or weight. She may be manipulating him and taking advantage of his infatuation to pursue ambitions of her own. But again, you would have to on some level care about the character before questions like that become compelling. My Cousin Rachel is blandly watchable, a forever unspooling nothing of a film that's hard to get worked up about. Clearly the director is hoping that you will be so taken in by the many shots of galloping horses and sumptuous architecture that you won't notice how silly the plot is, but even so huge a fan of heritage television as myself had to throw in the towel on this one. Everyone knows that horrors and thrillers are my favorite genres of film, but I also hold a special place for period films as well, so when a film can pack both of those things into a single film, you have my uninterrupted attention.

One thing Mr. Michell is doubtless anxious not to revisit would be the tormented process of the multiple endings he was forced to shoot for "Changing Lanes". On a trip to Italy, he writes that he has met their cousin Rachel Sangalletti. That tisane she keeps making Philip. It's an interesting angle - one perhaps inspired by Nicolas Roeg's peerless work on Far from the Madding Crowd - that draws out the complexity of their opening encounter, as Philip goes on the defensive only to be unexpectedly bowled over. My Cousin Rachel falls short of being a stuffy costume drama in the Merchant-Ivory tradition (an undeniable advantage) but the area in which it settles isn't much better: sort of sub-Downton Abbey in its approach, soapy but also mistaking seriousness for profundity.

Where this adaptation of My Cousin Rachel truly takes a tumble is in amounting its climax.

Depending on your service provider, you can catch Graham and his guests on BBC1 at either 10.35pm, or 10.55pm, so double check before clicking over.



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