Rebecca is a 2020 British romantic thriller film directed by Ben Wheatley from a screenplay by Jane Goldman, Joe Shrapnel and Anna Waterhouse. Based on the 1938 novel Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, the film stars Lily James, Armie Hammer, Kristin Scott Thomas, Keeley Hawes, Ann Dowd, and Sam Riley. The film is about the intrigues that arise after a young woman marries a wealthy widower whose first wife, Rebecca, died in a mysterious boating accident.

Official release poster
Directed byBen Wheatley
Screenplay by
Based onRebecca
by Daphne du Maurier
Produced by
CinematographyLaurie Rose
Edited byJonathan Amos
Music byClint Mansell
Distributed byNetflix
Release date
  • 16 October 2020 (2020-10-16) (United Kingdom)
Running time
121 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

The film was released in select theatres on 16 October 2020, and digitally on Netflix five days later. It received negative reviews from critics, who compared the film unfavourably to the 1940 version directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

Plot edit

While working for Mrs. Van Hopper in Monte Carlo, a young woman becomes acquainted with Maxim de Winter, a recent widower. After a brief courtship, they become engaged. They marry and then head to his mansion in England, Manderley.

Mrs. de Winter meets Mrs. Danvers, the housekeeper, who was devoted to his first wife Rebecca, who died in a boating accident. The staff and Maxim's friends also were fond of Rebecca. Mrs. Danvers emphasizes the new Mrs. de Winter's inferiority in comparison. Jack Favell, Rebecca's cousin, comes to visit, saying that Mrs. Danvers invited him. Learning of this infuriates Maxim, who banned him from the grounds, and accuses Mrs. de Winter of infidelity, which she denies. She confronts Mrs. Danvers for conspiring against her by inviting Favell, demanding her resignation. Mrs. Danvers insists he was lying.

The two begin working amicably together, with Mrs. Danvers assisting Mrs. de Winter in reviving the Manderley Costume Ball. Mrs. Danvers suggests that she choose a dress of a de Winter ancestor. When she wears it, guests are shocked and Maxim is furious. Mrs. de Winter learns that Rebecca wore the dress the previous year.

Realizing that Mrs. Danvers had manipulated her and believing that Maxim now regrets their marriage, Mrs. de Winter flees. Mrs. Danvers reveals her contempt for the new wife, believing she is trying to replace Rebecca. She tries to convince her to jump to her death from the window. However, she is thwarted by a nearby shipwreck brought from the storm. The ship is Rebecca's and her decomposed body is discovered on board.

This reopens the investigation into Rebecca's death. Maxim confesses to his wife that his marriage to Rebecca was a sham and that he always hated her. He states she was cruel, selfish, adulterous, and manipulative. On the night of her death, she told Maxim that she was pregnant with another man's child, which she would raise under the pretense that it was Maxim's. She placed his gun to her chest and stated that the only way to be free of her was to kill her. Enraged, Maxim pulled the trigger, then disposed of her body by placing it in her boat and sinking it.

Though disturbed by his confession, Mrs. de Winter is relieved to know that Maxim loves her and resolves to support him during the investigation. Favell attempts to blackmail Maxim, claiming to have proof that Rebecca did not intend suicide, in a note she had written.

The trial shows Rebecca's boat to have been deliberately sunk. Testimony from Mrs. Danvers implies Rebecca's visit to a London doctor shortly before her death had to do with the pregnancy. The prosecutor produces Maxim's cheque written to Favell for the note, and Favell accuses Maxim of murdering Rebecca. Maxim is placed under arrest.

At Manderley, Mrs. Danvers reveals that Rebecca hated all the men in her life. Mrs. de Winter fires her, locates Rebecca's doctor and reads her file, which reveals that she could not have been pregnant due to advanced uterine cancer and would have died within a few months. An investigator concludes Rebecca committed suicide by scuttling her boat, while Mrs. de Winter privately concludes that she had wanted Maxim to kill her.

Absolved, Maxim and his new wife drive home to find the mansion ablaze. A maid reveals that Mrs. Danvers started the fire and fled. Mrs. de Winter races to the cliffs, and finds her standing on a precipice. She pleads with her not to jump, but the older woman curses the de Winters to never know happiness and jumps into the sea and drowns.

Awakening from a dream years later, Mrs. de Winter is with her husband in Cairo, as they search for their dream home. She says that out of the wreck of Manderley she had saved the only thing worth saving – love.

Cast edit

Production edit

It was announced in November 2018 that Lily James and Armie Hammer were set to star in the film, to be directed by Ben Wheatley, which Netflix would distribute.[1] In May 2019, Kristin Scott Thomas, Keeley Hawes, Ann Dowd, Sam Riley, and Ben Crompton joined the cast of the film.[2][3]

Filming began on 3 June 2019.[4] Cranborne Manor in Dorset[5] and Hartland Quay in Devon were used for filming in July 2019.[6] In total, Rebecca was filmed at six different manors or estates. Along with Cranborne, Hatfield House was used for the interior hallways, Mapperton for Manderley's back garden (which is open for the public sometimes unlike the actual manor), Loseley Park for Manderley's staircases, Petworth House for one of the corridors full of marble statues and paintings, and lastly Osterley Park for Manderley's kitchen.[7][8] The bedrooms of the former and the new Mrs. De Winter were both sets.[9]

Release edit

Rebecca was released into select British cinemas on 16 October 2020, and digitally on Netflix worldwide on 21 October 2020.[10][11]

The film was the most-watched on the site in its first two days of release, before finishing second over the weekend.[12] It was out of the top 10 by the following weekend.[13] In November, Variety reported the film was the 11th most-watched straight-to-streaming title of 2020 up to that point.[14]

Reception edit

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 39% of 231 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 5.4/10. The website's consensus reads: "Ben Wheatley's Rebecca remake is ravishing to behold, but it never quite gets to the heart of the classic source material -- or truly justifies its own existence."[15] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 46 out of 100, based on 38 critics, indicating "mixed or average" reviews.[16]

Peter Debruge of Variety wrote: "For about three-quarters of the running time, Rebecca does a respectable job of navigating between respect for the source and establishing its own distinct identity. And then, at precisely the moment where it stands to make a few enlightened improvements... this Rolls-Royce of an adaptation veers off the road."[17]

Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave the film two out of five stars and wrote, "You can feel Wheatley... wanting to submit to the full bacchanalian horror of [the dress ball] sequence, and yet the story itself won't let him. This Rebecca leaves us with a secondary mystery – why precisely Wheatley wanted to do it."[10]

Constance Grady from Vox gave the film two out of five stars and went even further, "Ben Wheatley has no business making a gothic romantic horror movie if he is not interested in gothic romantic horror, and on the evidence of this film, he is not." She concludes, "Wheatley’s Rebecca is a horror film that is resolutely sure there is nothing horrifying going on here at all, actually."[18]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (14 November 2018). "Lily James, Armie Hammer To Star In Rebecca From Director Ben Wheatley". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on 15 November 2018. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  2. ^ N’Duka, Amanda (9 May 2019). "Kristin Scott Thomas Joins Lily James, Armie Hammer In Rebecca". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on 30 December 2020. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
  3. ^ White, Peter (31 May 2019). "Keeley Hawes, Ann Dowd, Sam Riley & Ben Crompton Join Ben Wheatley's Netflix Feature Rebecca". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on 30 December 2020. Retrieved 31 May 2019.
  4. ^ Marc, Christopher (27 January 2019). "Overlord and Free Fire Cinematographer Laurie Rose Expected To Reunite With Director Ben Wheatley For Rebecca". HN Entertainment. Archived from the original on 30 December 2020. Retrieved 7 February 2019.
  5. ^ Zemler, Emily (21 October 2020). "Where Netflix's 'Rebecca' found its Manderley". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 19 October 2022.
  6. ^ Cooper, Joel (26 June 2019). "Filming of Netflix blockbuster Rebecca will close beauty spot". Devon Live. Archived from the original on 30 December 2020. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  7. ^ "Where Was Rebecca Filmed? Your Guide To Manderley | Netflix - YouTube". Archived from the original on 30 December 2020. Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  8. ^ "Inside the great estates cast as Manderley in the new Rebecca". Tatler. 27 October 2020. Retrieved 30 August 2023.
  9. ^ REBECCA: Murray Barber – VFX Supervisor & Co-founder – Milk Visual Effects by Vincent Frei, 18 November 2020, retrieved 30 January 2022
  10. ^ a b Bradshaw, Peter (15 October 2020). "Rebecca review – overdressed and underpowered romantic thriller". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  11. ^ Sneider, Jeff (31 July 2020). "Armie Hammer and Lily James Get Gothic in First Images from Ben Wheatley's Rebecca". Collider. Archived from the original on 29 September 2020. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
  12. ^ Brueggemann, Tom (26 October 2020). "'After We Collided' Is a Smash with Small Pricetag, While 'Unhinged' Makes Its PVOD Debut". IndieWire. Archived from the original on 31 October 2020. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
  13. ^ Brueggemann, Tom (2 November 2020). "Netflix's 'Holidate' and VOD 'After We Collided' Thrive as Romance Beats Horror Over Halloween". IndieWire. Archived from the original on 2 November 2020. Retrieved 3 November 2020.
  14. ^ Bridge, Gavin (4 November 2020). "DATA: 'BORAT 2' SECOND ONLY TO 'HAMILTON' IN MOST-WATCHED U.S. SVOD MOVIES OF 2020". Variety. Archived from the original on 4 November 2020. Retrieved 4 November 2020.
  15. ^ "Rebecca". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 14 February 2023.  
  16. ^ "Rebecca (2020) Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on 30 December 2020. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  17. ^ DeBruge, Peter (14 October 2020). "'Rebecca' Review: Lily James and Armie Hammer Brighten Up a Brooding Classic in Netflix's Overtly Romantic Remake". Variety.
  18. ^ Grady, Constance (21 October 2020). "The exhausting failure of Netflix's Rebecca". Vox. Archived from the original on 30 December 2020. Retrieved 24 October 2020.

External links edit