Color Me Gothic – Netflix’s Rebecca is a Technicolor Disappointment

What are we all looking for in this Covid-colored world? A retreat from all the madness outside? Sure. For a bit. But how long can we live wrapped in all things Hygge? It’s also infinitely comforting to dive into the world of gothic suspense. The clothes scream of drama. The setting is mysterious and gloomy. Our inner world of Covid angst and high despair is splayed all over the world of shadows and twisted imagination; we revel in it.

Thus, how sad to witness the remake of Rebecca. I had read all the critical thrusts of displeasure and so I went in with low expectations. While I can see (unlike other reviewers) how Lily James was able to capture some of the high strung beauty of Joan Fontaine, for my taste there is too much egg yolk in this version. The South of France should be dipped in sun, yes…But this movie is relying too heavily on our minds zoning out out on the clothing, furniture decorations, sets, and flowers. I would happily zone out–if all the ‘stuff’ matched the suspense elements of the movie. But it doesn’t–or only in a blatantly obvious way: Max is filmed in warm tones, Mrs. Danvers in cool tones. Look people, Max is a cold, oblivious, autocrat for most of the film. Why should he get warm colors? He’s as much an adversary as Mrs. Danvers until…[No spoilers.]

Mrs. Danvers in shadows and cool tones. Kristin Scott Thomas brings all goth sensibility there is to her role.

I’ll admit when watching something awful like Gossip Girl I *do* spend half the time looking at the peony flowers and Blake Lively’s chunky, bo-ho necklaces. Still. Although someone put a lot of work and effort into creating a lush aristocratic dream, they weren’t smart enough to realize it’s the wrong flavor.

And people–you know I adore Armie Hammer right? But can he play British?

😦

His very lines point to the problem. He mentions the thorny issue of not having an heir. His sister’s sons, he says, are very nice, but their last name isn’t De Winter. His sister’s sons are probably saying to each other “Why is there a Yank living in our ancestral home?” That’s not a British accent, Armie.

If we’re not paying proper attention to the movie it might also have something to do with scandal hovering over the film. I’d heard about the Dominic West thing going on with Lily James. Then I sat puzzling over the problem of Lily James and Lily Collins the first few minutes of the movie. They’d become a bit confused in my mind. (Both named Lily, both on Netflix, both shows set in France…) At any rate I sorted it out–one is sweet and has eyebrows the other is a cheater.

Let’s face it, Kristin Scott Thomas’s portrayal of Mrs. Danvers aside, the best parts of the movie are Lily James and Armie Hammer smooching and getting it on. But that just wound up distracting me again. Cause Armie just left his wife. He blames Covid. But the Daily Mail is giving Lily the side eye.

Should we pin a bright scarlet ‘A’ onto the chest of women like Lily James? I’m on the fence. If Lily James, for instance, was ashamed that she was an agent of hurt for Dominic West’s wife and children, then you know what? I might be happy letting it go. But she’s not. Her response indicated she’s mortified that he and his wife are showing a united front. Not classy, Lily. Yet we despise women cheaters with so much more venom than we do male cheaters. She’s probably getting hate tweets, death threats, etc–completely out of proportion to what she might deserve. But instead of going down that rabbit hole I’ll just say this:

In the end, I like my stories of secrets and betrayals on the screen, thank you very much. The secrets, lies, and betrayals in Lily James’ celebrity life were not translated into this version of the story. Though I hate to join with the nay-sayers–give this movie a pass.

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