Review: ‘Rebecca’ is a sumptuous romantic thriller and a great new adaptation

Armie Hammer and Lily James / Rebecca

“I don’t believe in ghosts.” This is the defiant declaration by the future Mrs de Winter as she heads toward her new life. She came to Monte Carlo as a ladies maid and is leaving as the future wife of a wealthy landowner, and her lady has warned her that she will be haunted by the ghost of her fiancés’ first wife. Ghost aren’t real in the literal sense but what she doesn’t realize is that we can be haunted by the departed none the less.

Rebecca is a new adaptation of the classic novel by Daphne du Maurier, which follows a young woman, after she spends a whirlwind summer with her handsome suitor, settling into her new life as Mrs De Winter, the lady of a large estate in 1930s England. While her summer was idyllic her new life quickly turns into something else as the memory of her husband’s first wife permeates every aspect of her new life.

Each day that passes the remembrance by all those around her –new friends, new family, and new staff– haunts her further and drives her slowly toward madness. Is that haunting simply because she was larger than life, or is it something more insidious?

The answer, of course, is something you’ll have to watch the movie to find out and that, dear reader, is something I recommend you do.

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Review: Baby Driver

I sometimes find the music in films almost manipulative. You watch something big and brash, like a Transformers or Avengers, and the aural aim is clear: use the score to generate the required emotional response from the audience. Here’s the hero, BAM BAM BAAAAM. Moment of loss; strings in a minor key. Racing through a jungle, peppering Colombian foliage with bullets? Have some dubstep to pass the time. What stands out for me more these days are films where the music is part of the story, instead of merely underpinning the action. Inception’s slowed-down Non, Je ne regrette rien; Fury Road’s war drums; Tarantino’s torture music. It’s an elevation of the material, a move that takes it to a whole level of blissful enjoyment.

But even the creative musicality of these great films cannot eclipse the groove of Baby Driver. Edgar Wright’s crime story is choreographed like a ballet, where every movement, spin and gunshot is rooted in the music blasting out, and the effect is somewhere approaching pure magic.

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