Rebecca (2020) Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Ben Wheatley’s Rebecca is a slow psychological thriller, with a love story at its center. Love can be masked in so many ways and people pay the price for being blinded by their partner. Love can also whisk you away into situations that you wouldn’t have ever imagined. Lily James and Armie Hammer are perfectly cast as Maxim de Winter and Mrs. de Winter, they had great chemistry to carry out this film to the very end.

The one thing that people seem to ignore, is that Armie Hammer has this air about him – as this tall, beautiful man, who any woman would instantly fall in love with. He has those features and utilized them as Maxim de Winter. What really worked, was the way Lily James played into his persona, she was infatuated with him. She wanted him more than life itself, you could see it in her eyes and the way her body moved with his. The infatuation and lust for Maxim was definitely felt, all thanks to Lily James.

I was more taken aback with James’ performance because of how physical and emotional it was. Her body language was really interesting to watch and you’re able to feel everything she was feeling. She truly gave such a strong performance and it was great seeing this side of her. She also went toe to toe with Mrs. Danvers (Kristin Scott Thomas), who also gave a fantastic performance. Women were at the forefront, whether it was the newlywed, the house manager, or the ex wife, the presence of a woman’s energy was always felt and it was great.

Courtesy of Netflix Film
(left) Armie Hammer as Maxim de Winter and Lily James as Mrs. de Winter

I’ve always been a fan of Ben Wheatley’s work and his direction for Rebecca was unique to his style. The only thing that may have been off sync for me, was the editing in this film. I felt like it jumped quite a lot and I understood the choices that were made but for some reason it didn’t translate well for me. The costume and production design, were probably my favourite aspects of the film because of how beautifully detailed everything was.

Rebecca has great performances, a strong score and a very interesting story with a twist ending. The most important thing about the film is how one perceives love as perfection. It seems that whoever falls in love (especially those hopeless romantics) have a skewed perception of the one they’re with. It doesn’t happen to everyone, majority of the time we can’t find that perfect person, but someone who comes close to the idea of perfection.

Make sure to check out Rebecca on Netflix October 21st!

Midsommar Review and Analysis

Ari Aster’s sophomore film is much more inventive than Hereditary and has undertones of grief in all forms. People often associate grief with death, but it can also be applied to any loss and the emotional journey in which that takes you on.

Florence Pugh delivers a very honest, innocent and internal performance that is very beautiful to sit through. Her energy is just so pure that from the very beginning of the film you just want to protect her at all costs.

This being said, Ari Aster is a wonderful filmmaker, the camerawork and cinematography were absolutely stunning, for a film that is so eerie and graphic to take place in an open field in broad daylight was very different and I commend him for that. Most horror films (I do not consider this a horror in any sense whatsoever but it’s still classified as one and marketed as one) have such a dark setting that it’s almost impossible to understand what is happening at certain moments. In Midsommar everything was laid out in front of the camera allowing audiences to vividly see the gore and deaths. He tried to do something different and I respect the way he told the story visually.

The issue I have with Hereditary and Midsommar is that the cult symbolism in both films do not directly correlate to the thematic undertones. Both films started with themes of family dysfunction and grief but ended in a very different place. At least with Midsommar it was more cohesive as a narrative because Dani and Christian’s relationship was already on the rocks, so the ending somewhat made sense. There is very little explanation as to why these characters end up in these cult situations and I just think that he can elaborate more when trying to come up with a shocking third act finale.

I also feel that the lead characters do not get the chance to ever build on their repressed emotions. It was hard to watch Dani take what Christian was giving her and she was just very nonchalant about how he was treating her. The smirk she gave at the end of the film was too subtle considering the action that she was forced to do.

I also understand that Ari also chose to show the 5 stages of grief throughout the film:

Denial – the initial reaction after her parents and sister die, she was screaming and she did not want to believe that it was true.

Anger – the shrooms trip that she got the first day in Sweden, she was extremely angry

Bargaining – I would say that weighing the pros and cons of her relationship with Christian would fit this and the fact that she wanted to leave.

Depression – They showed her emotional state throughout

Acceptance – the third act is her processing the concept of death and then allowing herself to move forward from her old life and Christian was the last thing that tied her to her past self.

I could definitely analyze the film scene by scene, especially considering Dani and Christian’s relationship and how the major family death forcefully pushed them together and then the trip to Sweden was positioned to salvage it. There were a series of tests for Christian and he continued to fail her on an emotional level. They were disjointed from the start and she could feel him distancing himself from her. He was also very selfish and he manipulated her into thinking that he was the victim in majority of their arguments.

This film is aesthetically pleasing, the sound design is lovely and the story was better than Hereditary. Ari just has to create some sort of balance in his third act in order to bring everything together.