In retrospect, I should have taken notice of the fact that the only award associated with this movie was for the trailer above. Sadly the pace, mood and dramatic sense shown by Fox Searchlight Pictures and the Creative Advertising Group in making the trailer only shows up the lack of these qualities in the movie that Roger Michell made.
Having seen the trailer, I didn't see how he could wrong.
Rachel Weisz is usually charismatic and seemed a good choice for this role. There were places were she sparkled. She managed the ambiguity well and was perfect as the older, more experienced woman trying to decide what to do with the young man who is by turns following her around hopefully and attacking her.
Holliday Grainger is a rising star who is so much the English Rose that she makes Rachel Weisz looks positively exotic and foreign.She delivers a performance that has an impact far beyond the lines she's given.
Daphne Du Maurier's story is and edgy, ambiguous story that delivers "Girl On A Train" level tension.
I'd expected a thriller filled with sexual tension and barely suppressed violence, fed by an unresolved conflict between a hunger for revenge and a first experience of overwhelming carnal desire.
What I got was something that seemed more in love with presenting Thomas Hardy style nineteenth-century rural idyll than producing anything tense or even mildly dramatic.
Mike Eley's camerawork produced some wonderful scenes of country life that would have been perfect if this has been a remake of "Under The Greenwood Tree" but which didn't build any tension. Scenes that should have been intense were shot at odd angles from a middle distance. They showed off the set, the lighting and the costumes beautifully but didn't get me inside the characters' heads. The scene towards the end when Rachel is at tea with Philip and Louise, which should have been our final opportunity to figure out what Rachel's intentions really were, was shot from halfway across the room and mostly over Rachel's shoulder.
This rather flat approach to direction and cinematography was made worse by Sam Claflin's lacklustre performance. He was twenty-nine when the movie was made but comes across as much older. This is a problem as his character, Philip, is seen by Rachel as a young pup, not yet grown into his manhood. His actions are largely explained by his youth. He is in his early twenties, returning from university at the start of the movie and much of the action is in the run-up to his twenty-fifth birthday. He is meant to be young, inexperienced and a little unstable. Sam Claflin's performance lacked the range needed to get any of this across.
It doesn't help that there seems to be zero chemistry between Philip and Rachel. On Rachel's side, this makes sense but Philip should be besotted and instead comes across as going through the motions.
Roger Michell's Rebecca is not a bad movie but it was one where, even when watching it for the first time, I could see all the missed opportunities.
Still, on the bright side, it prompted me to buy the audiobook so I can go back and check the story Daphne Du Maurier meant to tell.