My Cousin Rachel - Blu-ray Review

Discussion in 'Blu-ray / Media Reviews' started by Michael Scott, Sep 11, 2017.

  1. Michael Scott

    Michael Scott Moderator / Reviewer
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    Apr 4, 2017
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    My Cousin Rachel

    Movie: :2.5stars:
    Video: :4.5stars:
    Audio: :4stars:
    Extras: :2.5stars:
    Final Score: :3.5stars:

    [​IMG] Movie

    I’m a huge fan of Alfred Hitchcock’s rendition of Rebecca, and was thrilled to see that another novel by famed author Daphne Du Maurier was being brought to the silver screen. Well, brought AGAIN to the silver screen, as the same novel that My Cousin Rachel stems from was originally made as a forgettable little film starring Olivia de Havilland and a very young Richard Burton, but that movie has largely vanished from history’s gaze. So color me eager to take a look at the film, only to see some very divisive reactions to the theatrical run. Never one to let a divisive rating keep me away, I dove into the film hoping for the best, but preparing myself to be disappointed. Preparation for something to fail helps take some of the sting away, but I was extremely disheartened to come to the conclusion that I agreed with the poor reviews that the film garnered, rather than the opposite reactions of some critics. Weisz is incredibly gifted as Rachel, and gives the performance her all, but Sam Claflin and a horribly jumbled script leaves you wanting so much more. The experience is in now way HORRIBLE, but it does leave you with this feeling that it could have been so much more.

    The film opens up with the main character, Phillip (Sam Claflin) narrating to you about his life as an orphan. He had been raised by his cousin Ambrose, and sent off to the finest schools only to settle down as a sort of “Jane Austen Bro” character. However, he has just received word that Ambrose is deathly ill and has been living in Italy for some time (That’s what people from damp, musty England did when they needed a warm and dry climate for health reasons). Upon arriving at his estate in Italy, Phillip is greeted with the news that his cousin has died, and he is CERTAIN (due to a weird letter) that Ambrose’s Italian wife is to blame. Storming back home to their estate (which he is taking possession of since Ambrose never left a will leaving his wife anything) he confronts the woman, only to find a beautiful and charming lady who doesn’t seem to have any malevolence.

    Turning from the brash and angry avenger of his brother, Phillip soon finds himself falling in love with Rachel (played by Rachel Weisz) and a strange sort of cat and mouse game begins. In the blink of an eye the stupid boy is ready to hand over his brother’s entire estate once he becomes of age, and becomes a veritable lap dog to the older woman. He even ignores every warning sign that there might be a darker side to her, and brashly pushes away his own guardian, Mr. Kendall (Ian Glenn), and his childhood friend Louise (Holliday Grainger) in his amorous attentions towards his cousin’s former wife. Then comes the inevitable. He comes down with a terrible virus, and soon those fears that he pushed to the side come rushing back as he wonders if HE will suffer the same fate as Ambrose.
    Right off the bat it was obvious that director Roger Michell was taking a clue from Alfred Hitchcock. The piano score lilts its way through the film with that “oh no! Something is going to happen!” tune, and we watch a sort noir romantic thriller unfold as Phillip gets himself in over his head. The first act or so of the film is quite intriguing at times, letting the audience tensely wait for the other shoe to drop, but once that other shoe DOES drop, you start to see the short sightedness of the writing crew. The menace and “what’s going to happen” just continues to go on and on and on with a turgid plodding nature that just doesn’t let up. It starts to become clear in the third act that plot points aren’t going to be wrapped up in a nice bow, or even explained mildly. Actions and sub plots come and go, then come up again only to be dropped completely as the movie veers off the rails in another direction. The ending leaves you with this feeling that the writers were just as confused as the viewers and finally just through their hands up in the ear in disgust and said “lets just end this thing”. I’m all for letting the viewer have some sort of guesswork in endings, and that you don’t have to spell EVERYTHING out, but there is simply no closure, and no sense of cohesive tying of storylines up, leaving the ending feeling a bit frustrating fore the viewer. Honestly, I think they laid the hints to what happened pretty obviously, but they laid so MANY contradicting hints that it’s not clever, but rather an assault on your guessing barometer in hopes of making the viewer feel like they were watching something mysterious and convoluted instead of just poorly written.

    The saving grace is naturally Rachel Weisz. She is a complete doll the entire time, and plays the role of the enigmatic Rachel with grace and mysterious ease. You feel a sense of dread, yet simple sweetness from her character, and even up to the end you are wracked with doubt over her true nature. Claflin is livable, but he plays Phillip like some sort of “bro” from a frat house (just with an English accent) that you can’t take him seriously in this period piece role. Not to mention his character is written so dopey that you can’t help but think that he’s a complete imbecile, and wish someone else was chosen for the role.


    Rated PG-13 for some sexuality and brief strong language.

    Video: :4.5stars:
    Shot using the industry standard Arri Alexa digital cameras, My Cousin Rachel comes to Blu-ray with a simply stunning 2.39:1 AVC encoded Blu-ray that really does shine. I was a bit saddened at no 4K UHD, but the film was finished with a 2K Digital Intermediary, so I guess I can’t complain too much, but the colors of the period piece film simply scream for 4K. The imagery is lush and filled with the greens of the English countryside, and the earthy tones of the dark palatial home of Phillip and Rachel. Dark interior shots show a little bit of mild banding, but otherwise fine detail is exquisite, ranging from the light creasing in Rachel Weisz’s face, to the intimate stitching on the Victorian clothing. Outdoor shots and daylight sequences seem to have light levels pushed a bit high, and there is a mild softness that is associated with that white push, but overall, the image is superb.

    Audio: :4stars:
    [​IMG] Fox gives the picture a single 5.1 DTS-HD MA track that really does a great job for a very dialog centric film. Vocals are crisp and cleanly replicated up front, and the surround channels get some mild usage with thudding of horses hooves, or the creaking of a chair in the background, but most of the time they’re really used for the tense piano based score more than anything. LFE is nice and pleasant, adding some intensity to the music, as well as adding weight to things like slamming doors, or the afore mentioned horse hooves. A majority of the time it’s rather front heavy in all aspects, but the score is so constant and present that it’s kind of balanced out nicely instead of feeling like a 3.1 track.

    Extras: :2.5stars:

    • Deleted Scenes
    • Promotional Featurettes
    • VFX Progressions
    • Scoring Sessions
    • Audio Commentary by Roger Michell and Kevin Loader
    • Gallery

    Final Score: :3.5stars:

    My Cousin Rachel had a lot of potential coming from an acclaimed author like Daphne du Maurier, and you can tell that Michell really tried to emulate the Hitcockian flair of Rebecca, but the end result was a turgid affair that just fell in on itself trying to be overly clever and mysterious. Rachel Weisz is a treat to behold in just about everything she’s in, and but Claflin and the writing really sunk the proverbial ship. The first act or two is quite fun, but after the third act and the ridiculous ending, I have to leave this as a low end rental at the best. Despite the excellent video and great audio.

    Technical Specifications:

    Starring: Rachel Weisz, Sam Claflin, Holliday Grainger
    Directed by: Roger Michell
    Written by: Roger Michell (Screenplay), Daphne Du Maurier
    Aspect Ratio: 2.39.1 AVC
    Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
    Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures
    Rated: PG-13
    Runtime: 106 Minutes
    Blu-ray Release Date: August 29th, 2017

    Recommendation: Low Rental

    tripplej likes this.
  2. tripplej

    tripplej AV Enthusiast

    Jul 13, 2017
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    Thanks for the review. For a second there, I thought this was a follow up to "My Cousin Vinny", lol. I will skip this "My Cousin Rachel". :)

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