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?

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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.

Screaming For More: Mary Burton’s Dying Scream

screamI’m ready to scream this morning after tangling myself up in Facebook for over an hour. Does anyone really understand how those wacky author pages work? ¬†I’m taking a breather to do something fun — like chatting with you about Mary Burton’s, DYING SCREAM.

Now, this isn’t Burton’s latest book. ¬†Her latest book is THE SEVENTH VICTIM. ¬†DYING SCREAM came out in 2009, but I picked it up last year and plunked it on my TBR pile (Which is so toweringly high I give one of those silent Edward Munch screams every time I peek at it.)

screamyDYING SCREAM is my favorite Burton novel to date. ¬†This book reminds me of an early Mary Higgins Clark. There’s a hard working heroine named Adrianna who’s pretty perfect. ¬†Normally, I’d not be very sympathetic to Adrianna as a character, but life has handed her a heavy load to bear for the last few years and you’d need to be pretty perfect to keep chipping away at all the problems in it, as Adrianna has. As she’s working through a massive heap of both emotional and work-a-day world woes, you wonder if they will ever end–and that’s just when the spooky-creepy factor starts to build. ¬†Adrianna gets a loving note, but it’s from her dead husband.

What I like about Burton’s skill in this book is that once that fear of a crazy stalker sets in for Adrianna, she starts thinking back. ¬†She’s perhaps been too busy to notice, but maybe he’s actually been around for awhile. ¬†The ripples spread far and wide in her mind as uneasiness spreads to all areas of her life. ¬†Being an extremely busy woman, she’s not exactly surrounded with people to support and protect her. ¬†It’s more like she’s alone in an empty dark building at night, counting out cash and paying bills. I certainly can relate to this workaholic scenario of tired isolation. I really enjoyed the way Burton started cranking the tension from there. ¬†She also does that really good Higgins-Clark move of providing a wide array of male suspects who are both appealing and likeable, yet they all have a little kink in them that could potentially reveal something nasty.

SeventhThe cherry on top for me in this book was Gage Hudson, detective as well as Adrianna’s former love interest. ¬†The writing Mary Burton does around these two in their moments of sexual intensity were SO DAMN GOOD.

That’s all I’m going to say. ¬†It’s a romantic suspense thriller after all. ¬†I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you. ¬†Meanwhile, you can see Mary Burton in person this year at The Virginia Festival of the Book in March. ¬†On Saturday, March 23rd, she’s appearing over at Crime Wave but she’s also on a panel at 4pm called KISS KISS BANG BANG. ¬†Writers on this panel will talk about romantic suspense and how to injecting that romantic intensity into works of mystery. ¬†I’m definitely going to ask Mary about how she makes her wound up readers melt. ¬†There’s a book signing right after the panel, and you can find the details here.