REBECCA. (2020) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

REBECCA. (2020) DIRECTED BY BEN WHEATLEY. BASED ON THE 1938 NOVEL BY DAPHNE DU MAURIER.

STARRING LILY JAMES, ARMIE HAMMER, KRISTIN SCOTT THOMAS, KEELEY HAWES, ANN DOWD AND JANE LAPOTAIRE.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I’m not crazy about this re-make, to be totally honest with you. Let’s get something clear from the start. It could never have hoped to rival the original 1940 movie, directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier as the bride and groom respectively.

That original film is a masterpiece of gothic romantic horror and mystery combined, with superb acting, tension building and wildly beautiful Cornish scenery. It was one of Hitchcock’s finest films, and probably Joan Fontaine’s best performance ever.

She has a genuinely believable air of naivete and gullibility about her that makes us really see her as the frightened Mrs. de Winter Mark Two who doesn’t come close to her predecessor for sophistication and worldly-wise confidence, but that’s exactly why she appeals to tormented widower Maxim de Winter.  

Where was I? Oh yes. Harrumph. This re-make was never going to be fit to polish the boots of the original, but that’s okay. As long as it showed us something a bit different in it, we’d be okay with it, or as long as it presented some aspect of the original in a new light, say.

But it just plods along really, in a rather dull and pedestrian fashion, changing a few things here and there for the sake of change, and because it’s change for the sake of change, it kind of comes across as annoying and superfluous.

The handsome and muscular Armie Hammer is a bit wooden as the millionaire husband, and Lily James is whingy and irritating as the gauche, lower-class bride he brings to Manderley on the Cornish coast, a year or so after the death of his wife Rebecca. We know the plot inside-out by now.

The new Mrs. de Winter sees the deceased Rebecca’s stamp of ownership all over Manderley and her new husband, Maxim de Winter. Mrs. Danvers, Manderley’s austere, forbidding housekeeper, is still devoted to her now-dead mistress, having known her from a child, and she takes every opportunity to rub the new bride’s face in the fact that she isn’t a patch on Rebecca and never will be, so she might as well kill herself… Good old Danny, always looking on the bright side!

Socially, a chasm the size of the Grand Canyon yawns fearfully between Maxim and Wife Number Two. He lives in a fabulous mansion on inherited wealth and she is an orphan, reduced to providing companionship to sour, embittered old biddies whose glory days are long behind them. Maxim and his bride are sexually attracted to each other, at least, but their sex scenes are far from electrifying, sadly, more like a damp squib.

All the main checkpoints are still here. The dreadful Mrs. Van Hopper, for whom the nameless bride is ‘a friend of the bosom.’ The old boathouse, and the crazy old man who says, ‘she’s gorn, isn’t she, into the sea? She won’t come back no more.’

The ill-fated costume ball, in which the bride plays right into the hands of Mrs. Danvers and wears a costume guaranteed to repulse Maxim, not delight him. The shipwreck with the decomposed corpse on board. The coroner’s inquest. The fire, but the person you think should die in it doesn’t die in it. They have something else in mind for themselves as a grand finale. Sorry, that’s a spoiler.

We really miss the smooth, suave, sardonically self-serving Jack Favell as played by George Sanders here. We miss his eccentric, half-hopping entrance through an open window, the way he taps his cigarette on the case before lighting up, and the air of sleazy sexuality that surrounds him permanently and that allows him to have a forbidden love affair with his beloved cousin, Rebecca, who, by all accounts, what quite a wee goer in her day.

Sam Riley as Jack Favell in the 2020 adaptation might cut it in a modern version of UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS or DOWNTON ABBEY, but is somewhat lacking in the sex appeal needed to produce a good performance as the louche Favell.  

The one thing that’s completely new- and good!- is the addition of veteran British actress Jane Lapotaire (THE ASPHYX, LADY JANE) as Maxim and Beatrice de Winter’s Aged Grandmother. She shames the new bride most dreadfully by telling her stridently, more than once, that she’s ‘not Rebecca!’ The very idea that she could be the mistress of the house! The Aged Crone cackles mirthlessly at the notion.

There’s some lovely scenery and settings in the film, but it’s still a cheap, clunky imitation of one of the best mystery movies ever made. Watch it if you like out of curiosity, or if you like Armie Hammer (I do!) or nice views of the cliffs and the sea, but there’s not a lot else here to sea, I mean, to see, to be quite blunt. I don’t like being so negative about a film but I think that here we have a distinct case of all style and no substance. Sorry…!

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her new book, THIRTEEN STOPS EARLIER, is out now from Poolbeg Books:

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

YOU GET ME. (2017) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

YOU GET ME. (2017) DIRECTED BY BRENT BONACORSO. STARRING BELLA THORNE, HALSTON SAGE AND TAYLOR JOHN SMITH.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I absolutely loved this Netflix romantic thriller, even though most of its reviews seem to be negative. Don’t believe everything the critics tell you, though. Sometimes critics are film snobs and turn their noses up at things they think are beneath them.

I think this film is a perfectly acceptable addition to the canon of steamy why-won’t-she-leave-me-alone-is-she-fucking-mad-or-what thrillers. It’s like FATAL ATTRACTION or PLAY MISTY FOR ME for teens, or SWIMFAN, which is already aimed at high school kids. These films all conform to a certain formula. I don’t mind this at all, as I love the formula.

Hot guy breaks up with girl or is separated from her somehow for a night or two. Guy meets mysterious sexy hot new girl and has sex with her. Guy comes to his senses next morning and tells girl, thanks for the sex but I must be going now. Back he goes to regular girlfriend, who welcomes him back with open arms… and legs.

But guess who turns up unexpectedly (seriously though, the only one not expecting to see her again is the stupid Hot Guy!) and refuses to let Hot Guy go? That’s right. Mysterious hot new girl. And now she’s obsessed with Hot Guy and keeps showing up everywhere he goes. Hot Guy is at his wit’s end. He’s gonna have to confess to regular girlfriend What He Did Last Summer, etc.

This is exactly what happens in YOU GET ME. Tyler is the hot beach bum blonde surf god who dumps his girlfriend Alison at a party when he finds out that she’s put out for other guys but is making him wait for sex with her. Her prerogative, I would have thought…!

A hot girl called Holly, a new girl in town, is only too happy to take poor lonely Tyler home to her step-mother’s magnificent (but soulless!) all-white beach house. Or beach mansion, I should say. They have wild, uninhibited beach house sex, and the next day Tyler barely knows which end is up.

He says ta-ra, love, to Holly and gets back with Alison immediately. But imagine his horror when Holly turns up at his school as the new girl, and immediately starts inveigling herself into his and Alison’s- and their friends’- lives...

Everyone else, including Alison, loves Holly, she’s such fun! But Tyler knows something isn’t right. Just what is Holly planning, and exactly how far is she prepared to go with her campaign of terror against Tyler…? It’s fantastic stuff. If you’re in any way like me, you’ll lap it up off the shag-pile with a bendy straw.

FATAL AFFAIR (2020) is another Netflix erotic thriller I was watching recently. It has exactly the same plot as YOU GET ME, except for one or two points. The white dopey school-age teens have been replaced with affluent black adults, in particular Ellie and Marcus Warren and their college-age daughter, Brittany.

The big twist here is that it’s the man, an old acquaintance of Ellie’s called David Hammond, who’s doing the stalking this time, which makes an interesting change. He sees Ellie again after a number of years, clocks how hot, sexy and together she is and says to himself, that’s nice, yeah, baby, I’ll have me a piece of that.

But Ellie is not just going to let her life be ruined by David, a man with secrets and a dark past that would surely be of interest to any woman planning to date him and unknowingly take him under false pretences to a lunch at Ellie and Marcus’s beach house, ie, Ellie’s best friend, Courtney. Let’s hope Courtney has the nouse to emerge unscathed…

I don’t know why so many quite good directors feel the need to give their films such terrible bland titles. Don’t they want their films to stand out, or what? Just look at these titles, every one a FATAL ATTRACTION rip-off. Would you believe, I have every single one of these films on DVD? I have a good eye for these little gems.

1.    FATAL AFFAIR.
2.    FATAL INSTINCT.
3.    BASICALLY AN INSTINCTIVE AFFAIR.
4.    FATALLY OBSESSED.
5.    A FATAL OBSESSION.
6.    OBSESSIVELY FATAL.
7.    OBSESSIVELY FATAL AFFAIR.
8.    A BASIC AFFAIR; that is, no frills!
9.    BASICALLY, D’YOU WANNA HAVE AN AFFAIR OR WHAT?
10.  DANGEROUS LIES.
11.  DANGEROUS AFFAIR.
12.  DANGEROUS INSTINCTS.
13.  INSTINCTIVELY DANGEROUS AFFAIR.
14.  DANGEROUS ATTRACTION.
15.  TELL ME LIES.
16.  DON’T TELL ME LIES, I WAS PISSED WHEN I SAID THAT.
17.  WHAT A SIMPLY SPLENDID AFFAIR!
18.  SINGLE WHITE STALKER.
19.  FATALLY STALKED.
20.  FATAL FATALITIES.
21.  OBSESSIVELY STALKED.
22.  OBSESSIVE STALKER.
23.  DANGEROUS STALKER.
24.  JOHN STALKER: THE NUMBER ONE BESTSELLER. (How the Charles Dickens did this one sneak in here?)
25.  FATALLY BASIC INFIDELITY.
26.  BASICALLY FATAL INFIDELITY.
27.  DANGEROUS INFIDELITY.
28.  PLAY FATAL ATTRACTION FOR ME.
29.  PLAY FATAL OBSESSION FOR ME.
30.  CHEAT AND YOU FUCKIN’ DIE.
31.  CHEATING FUCKERS MUST DIE.
32.  CHEATING FUCKERS ALWAYS DIE.
33.  FATALLY UNFAITHFUL.
34.  BASICALLY UNFAITHFUL.
35.  DANGEROUSLY UNFAITHFUL.
36.  YOURS UNFAITHFULLY.
37.  UNFAITHFULLY YOURS.
38.  FATALLY LOVED.
39.  DANGEROUS LOVE.
40.  BASICALLY, AN INSTINCTIVE KIND OF LOVE.
41.  UNFAITHFUL LOVE.
42.  ADULTEROUS LOVE.
43.  FATAL KISSES.
44.  FATALLY KISSED.
45.  UNFAITHFUL KISSES.
46.  ADULTEROUS KISSES.
47.  INSTINCTIVE KISSES.
48.  DANGEROUS KISSES.
49.  A LOVER KISSED.
50.  DID YOU JUST KISS HER, YOU CHEATING FUCKER?

Hey, we made it to fifty, go, us! You can see what I mean, though, can’t you? ‘Tis desperate altogether. It’s almost as if someone says of the title of the movie, ‘nah, that’s too good, too original, we don’t want to lose the run of ourselves. We’re not trying to stand out here. Let’s make it a little more generic, shall we? Make the film a little harder to find online and in general.

‘Stick the word fatal in there somewhere? Maybe affair as well? That’s an idea. What about FATAL AFFAIR? Hey, looks like we’ve hit the jackpot with this one. Everyone in favour, raise your hands. Looks like a full house to me. Now, onto more important things. Chinese or Indian for the take-out…? Warren, you’re elected, buddy! Don’t you be fucking up my order like you did last time.’

Ah, you get the gist. I loved YOU GET ME, and FATAL AFFAIR was good too. Check them both out on Netflix, but not the way you’d check a library book out of the library. It doesn’t work like that. I know. I’ve tried it. Over and out.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
 
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO
Her new book, THIRTEEN STOPS EARLIER, is out now from Poolbeg Books:
https://amzn.to/3ulKWkv