This second take on Daphne Du Maurier’s novel isn’t as promising as the trailers promised, but “My Cousin Rachel” does offer a lot of brave acting, beautiful locations, and nice dialogue for me to enjoy. The set-up involves a young man plotting revenge on the woman who may have murdered his cousin-the one who raised him-and then falling in love with her. Rachel Weisz is radiant as the widow Rachel and Sam Claflin is a real charmer as the young man Phillip.
Phillip opens with him being raised by his cousin, who eventually falls ill and heads over to Florence, Italy for treatment. He falls for Rachel, marries her, and then dies of a brain tumor. Believing this was murder, Phillip is preparing to give his new cousin-now-turned-widow harsh treatments, until he sees what a beautiful flower she is.
He becomes so convinced he is head-over-heals for her, that he ends up willing to give up his family’s jewels and estate for her; that is until he becomes ill. So ill, that when he asks Rachel to marry him, she feels no longer safe with him.
I wish I could have gotten a better understanding about the true nature of Rachel, which left me guessing and looking for clarification. Still, “My Cousin Rachel” offers sexy, stunning, and well-acted scenes, all of which feature such fascinating performances from Weisz and Claflin, and all are well-directed by Roger Michell. As imperfect as it tends to get, I was actually aroused by it.