5.5/10 I re-watched Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rebecca” and followed that up with my first time viewing of the made for TV two-episode mini-series from 1997 with the same title that had two future “Game of Thrones” actor making up 2/3 the lead actors. Although the 1997 TV version had the lowest budget and felt the cheesiest, I still found it to be better than this unnecessary remake that made me just want to watch the 1940 version again. I’ve always been a firm believer in not remaking great or classic films because they are already fine as is. Remakes should be used sparingly for movies that had potential but fell short of what could have been. “Rebecca” never needed an updated remake but since the film makers said this latest iteration would be more faithfully adapted from the book, as opposed to the other versions who had some changes made, I figured I’d see what those differences amounted to. The vast majority of the differences came in the third act but not only didn’t do anything to make the movie better but in most cases these changes made the movie worse compared to previous adaptations, making me appreciate how smart the film makers were who made the older versions for changing certain elements of the novel upon which this is based. For example, one scene shows Max DeWinter (Armie Hammer) sleep walking and his new bride Mrs. DeWitner (Lily James) following him through their mansion to see what he is doing. The scene ends, amounting to nothing but I thought the purpose would be that he would sleep walk again later and something exciting or relevant would happen since his sleep walking had previously been established but the sleep walking was never addressed again, making that scene pure filler that took up time but served no purpose. I would guess the film makers wanted a somewhat creepy moment in the movie but it ended up just wasting time. As for the changes in the third act, I thought that compared to the 1940 and 1997 version, this 2020 take was actually less nail biting, intense and suspenseful than past versions in worrying about the authorities catching onto what Max had done. So this movie basically retreads what had already been done, making it unnecessary but what little it did change to mix things up, made the movie worse. Definitely not a great plan from director Ben Wheatley, whose filmography I just recently 100% completed and whose work I have found to be hit or miss. Despite everything wrong here, I will point out the elements that worked well and should be applauded. The only major change I really appreciated and always wondered about while watching the older adaptations was why the new Mrs. DeWinter didn’t just fire Mrs. Danvers and luckily that is addressed here. The casting for this movie is fantastic with Lily James acting as the true lead and carrying the movie extremely well. She has put in good work for years and continues to do so. Hammer does a fine job, as does Ann Dowd but the other stand out was Kristin Scott Thomas as Mrs. Danvers, who I put right up there with Nurse Ratched and Annie Wilkes as one of best, female villain roles every put to celluloid. Thomas completely embodies the role and will make you hate her with every fiber of your being. Since this is the newest adaptation, it also makes sense that it would look the best as we get to see more of Manderley’s beauty and the lush English coast surrounding it. The visuals look fantastic, the production and costume design are flawless and one of my all-time favorite composers, Clint Mansell, provides a wonderfully fitting score that fits the movie perfectly. I also enjoyed that unlike the 1997 version, this movie harkens back to the 1940 original where, despite Mr. DeWinter being older than his new bride, they look close enough in age to understand their attraction to each other. The almost 30-year difference in the 1997 version seemed a bit much, despite large age gaps being even more normal back in the day but I’m glad they casted actors who were roughly three years apart, which if anything might have been a little too close in age but this movie pulls off their attraction well. In the end, the beautiful visuals, strong acting and wonderful score can’t save a movie that had no need to be made in the first place and one whose changes sink the movie like a woman’s boat capsizing at sea. Stick with Hitchcock’s original masterpiece.

#DeWinterIsComing / #SadMax / #OnTheBasisOfSubjects / #TheEnglishPlacement / #ManderleydToRest / #WellAnnDowd

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