In “Rebecca”, an orphan and poor young woman (Lee James) marries Maxime de Winter (Armie Hammer), an aristocratic widow. She moves in to live with him in his grand mansion called “Manderly” in Coronal. Upon her arrival, the new Madame de Winter finds she is living in the shadow of former Madame de Winter … Rebecca, the darling who left a great void after her early death in mysterious circumstances. Madame de Winter’s fictional life is sliding into Hell because of the mysteries of her death, and her inability to follow in the impeccable footsteps of her predecessor.
The new movie faces the same problem as Madame de Winter. In no way can I match Hitchcock’s masterpiece of eighty years ago. De Morier’s novel, which belongs to Gothic literature, is not a “ghost story”, and he goes out and walks into the rooms. What haunts Madame de Winter is not a material thing, but an idea, the idea of an ex-wife and girlfriend with whom she cannot be compared. Hitchcock understood and presented it, but what Ben Wheatley made was a disaster.
The novel and the two films start with the same famous sentence, “Last night I dreamed that I went back to Manderley.” Hitchcock took hold of that premise, to make an obscure and disturbing Gothic presentation. Wheatley begins with the introduction with a rundown, fast, and downright tale of spoiling any excitement. The new movie is a mixture of nothing and anything … disjointed and disharmonious. Whether we’re thinking of a novel or a Hitchcock movie; The woman in “Manderly” mansion is the first thing that comes to our minds … this hidden presence of the character of Rebecca, which is necessary to arouse romance, jealousy and the general mysterious atmosphere. In the new version, everything is missing. The directing is sterile and unimaginative, the characters are dull, Maxime is like a womanizer, and Madame de Winter looks like a stuffed doll without a soul, or a Disney princess. “Manderly” is neither great nor mystical. Rebecca’s presence is almost imperceptible despite unnecessary dream scenes.
A plagued and disjointed film, pasting scenes and images without narrative intelligence
The novel’s strength lies mainly in its mood, not its plot. The new movie is fast-paced. Rebecca’s old magic was in her unseen presence, at slow motion every scene. In the Hitchcock movie When Mrs. De Winter decides to enter Rebecca’s room; We see her climb the stairs, slowly, standing at the door, frightened, about to enter Hell itself. In the new movie, we saw her run through the door like an elephant in a circus. In the new movie, we see her liking Rebecca’s perfume and the things she owned, and that has nothing to do with jealousy, inferiority and guilt. Rebecca is a story based on subtlety, uncertainty and silence about the character of the deceased person that continues to influence the lives of those alive. Rebecca is mentioned in the movie Wheatley every ten minutes, the director wanted to keep Rebecca in our minds, by her name because he’s unable to make her haunt us. One of the most beautiful and important scenes in the novel and the old movie is the scene of the party and the clothes, but in the new version the party looked like a Cinderella party! “Rebecca,” the great novel and cinematic masterpiece, has become “the tortured man and the gullible girl.”
Ben Wheatley’s film is pleading and disjointed, pasting scenes and images without narrative intelligence. It’s impossible to feel trapped, suffocated, fearful, or upset. A movie that lacks origin and without context, has no soul and kills the plot. It is like a Manderley mansion in the end, uninhabited, with burning walls, or perhaps it is like cotton candy: colors and sugar without substance.
* «Rebecca» on Netflix
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