The film lends itself to revealing its under-plot in a particularly uneducated way
My Cousin Rachel tells the story of Philip (Sam Claflin), who is brought up by his cousin in the English countryside. As he moves into adulthood, his cousin takes off to live in Italy where he meets his wife Rachel (Rachel Weisz). However, he soon dies and Rachel visits England to stay with Philip. He suspects Rachel of crimes against his cousin, yet as he grows to know her, he discovers feelings that he never thought he would hold.
My instant reaction was one of underwhelment and particularly in the case of Rachel Weisz. Having previously won an academy award, her performances in 2017 have been lacklustre. Her role in Denial lacked emotion, and it’s a similar case here. Weisz plays the character fairly openly, but if she was more constrained, not emotionally but descriptively, the film would be a tighter piece. However, blame for this doesn’t just lie on her shoulders. Director Roger Michell should have been able to reign this in with closer handling of the performances.
In fact, My Cousin Rachel is a somewhat naive story on its own. The film lends itself to revealing its under-plot in a particularly uneducated way. It becomes very predictable and without a stronger grasp on knowing how to keep the audience guessing, the film runs wild, leading to meandering sections adding little to anything but the run time.
This is not a film of brilliance or suspense, but one that largely manages to avoid the charm that usually comes with a period drama of this nature. With average performances and a lack of strong direction, My Cousin Rachel becomes a small time, predictable picture already set to be thrown into the archives.